MSF closes Haiti emergency clinic after ambulance attack

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The logo of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) is seen at the international medical humanitarian organisation MSF logistique centre in Merignac near Bordeaux, France, December 6, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/ File Photo

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is temporarily shutting an emergency clinic in Haiti‘s capital Port-au-Prince, the medical charity said on Thursday, after armed men stopped an ambulance, forcibly removed a severely wounded patient, beat him and then shot him dead.

The aid group did not disclose the patient’s identity.

THE TAKE

Escalating violence from armed gangs in the Caribbean nation has forced many aid groups to cut operations due to lack of safety for staff and patients, as well as dwindling budgets due to underfunded campaigns.

MSF had already announced the closure of a hospital earlier this year. The limited reach of aid groups, including for victims of mass sexual violence, increasingly leaves healthcare in the hands of small, cash-strapped local organisations.

KEY QUOTE

“We need a minimum of safety to carry out our medical mission,” MSF’s Haiti mission head, Benoit Vasseur, said in a statement.

“MSF is one of the very few international organisations delivering medical care in the capital,” he added. “We can’t accept that our ambulances are attacked, and our patients are beaten and killed.”

CONTEXT

Wars between increasingly powerful and heavily armed gangs controlling most of Haiti‘s capital have forced close to 200,000 people from their homes, with many reporting homes burned down, arbitrary murders, kidnappings and gang rapes.

The United Nations in October ratified sending an international force of troops volunteered by member nations to support national police. Meanwhile, many U.N. and aid agencies have warned of a worsening humanitarian catastrophe.

WHAT’S NEXT

MSF said it continues to offer care to trauma and burn victims, sexual violence survivors, pregnant women and other patients at a handful of clinics around the capital, including mobile clinics, and one on the southern peninsula.

Kenya is set to decide in January whether it could lead the U.N.-backed support force, which has been mandated to help secure routes for humanitarian aid.

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