By Mua Patrick Mughe in Yaounde –
Renowned global medical organisation, Doctors Without Borders, has expressed indignation over the shooting to dead of a civilian by soldiers in a health facility in Bamenda last week.
In a statement issued Friday, the international medical humanitarian organisation urged all parties involved in the ongoing armed conflict in the Anglophone regions to respect the safety and security of medical facilities, ambulances, staff and patients.
They recounted that “On Wednesday 19th February, at around 10:30 am, a car entered St Mary Soledad’s Hospital in Bamenda, a heath structure supported by Doctors Without Borders. None of the occupants of the first car were Doctors Without Borders’ staff. This car was immediately followed by a vehicle of the Cameroonian Defence and Security Forces. As both cars stopped in the compound, security forces surrounded the vehicle and a soldier opened fire, killing the driver”.
Several bullets also struck the adjoining ambulance call centre building, endangering patients and hospital staff, the organization said.
“We categorically condemn in the most severe terms the use of arms in, around or against health facilities,” Emmanuel Lampaert, Doctors Without Borders’ Operations Coordinator for Cameroon said in the statement Friday.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that staff and patients have faced security incidents in this region. In recent weeks and months, our medical teams have been threatened a number of times by different parties involved in the crisis, including intimidation at gunpoint,” he added.
The organization said in a context of increasing armed clashes and health needs across the North West region, Doctors Without Borders is calling for all parties to respect the safety and security of medical facilities, ambulances, staff and patients, as well as for better protection of civilians.
“This call for respect goes to every actor involved in the current crisis. We remind all parties that medical facilities and vehicles are exclusively dedicated for the provision of medical assistance and must be respected and protected to let health workers treat and transport patients in a safe and secure environment” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders, it should be said is a neutral, independent medical organisation working in more than 70 countries to provide care for populations in distress, irrespective of political convictions, language, gender, religion or creed.
In Cameroon, the organisation is responding to health needs in the far-north, south-west and north-west regions. In the North West region, its team are supporting St Mary Soledad’s Hospital in Bamenda and St Joseph Hospital in Widikum, providing a free ambulance service and medical care for victims of intentional and unintentional trauma, acute abdominal interventions requiring surgery, medical complications for severe acute malnourished children under five, obstetrical complications, acute mental health conditions, and support for survivors of sexual violence.