Since last weekend, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders is seeing a significant increase in the number patients wounded by stray bullets in its medical facilities in the capital. Since the start of violent clashes between armed groups in the peripheral neighborhoods, MSF’s Emergency Center in Turgeau has seen almost 80 people with gunshot wounds, most of them by stray bullets.
“These patients only represent a small number of the victims. Moving around has become extremely dangerous in several areas of the city. Many inhabitants are trapped in their neighbourhoods. This has made access to health care very difficult. MSF is organising mobile clinics, to reach the people that can’t move. But even our medical teams face difficulties; at least three times, our mobile clinics had to be postponed or cancelled because of the fighting,” said Rachelle Seguin, medical coordinator for MSF in Haiti.
In the neighbourhood of Cité Soleil, an MSF mobile clinic reached the area during a ceasefire. In a few hours, our medical teams carried out 150 consultations—30 of which were for people with infected wounds, meaning these were old wounds that weren’t treated before. This is likely because the wounded couldn’t get medical help, either because of the intensity of the ongoing fighting or because armed groups have erected roadblocks and barricades. In some areas, MSF can only treat patients in basements or windowless rooms because of the dangers of crossfire and stray bullets.
Since the increase in violence in several areas of Port-au-Prince—whether it’s in Cité Soleil, Martissant, or, most recently, Bel Air, Bas Delmas, and the fringes of the city centre—MSF always observes a decrease in outpatient consultations.
“One year after we had to close our Emergency Center in Martissant because of the violence and moved it to Turgeau, we reiterate our calls. The population of Port-au-Prince must be spared from the violence and must have access to health care and basic services,” says Benoît Vasseur, Head of Mission for MSF in Haiti. “We’re very concerned that the conflict zones in the Haitian capital and its surroundings keep spreading.”