Doctors Without Borders, the charity organization more popularly known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), announced that it would be closing the hospital it operates in the Cite Soleil district in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince.
The organization said it was forced to make that decision because it could not guarantee the safety of patients and its staff members. Port-au-Prince has been afflicted by suffocating violence since the death of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moise, with Cite-Soleil affected as well. Conflicting gangs are openly participating in gunfights in the streets of the area.
“We are looking at a war scene just meters away from our hospital,” says Vincent Harris, an MSF medical advisor. “While the hospital has not been targeted, we are a collateral victim of the fighting, since the hospital is right on the frontline of the fighting.”
“We realize that closing the hospital will have a serious impact on the people of Cité Soleil, but our teams cannot work until security conditions are guaranteed,” says Harris.
The immediate area around the hospital is dangerous. Gunfire regularly rings in close vicinity to the hospital, forcing both patients and staff members to duck and hide from bullets. According to an MSF staff member, a child on oxygen died in a security room specifically meant for hiding from gunfire. An elderly 70-year-old man was struck by stray gunfire while making his way to the hospital. “Large numbers of stray bullets have entered the hospital compound, while reaching the hospital is currently almost impossible for the sick and wounded, some of whom have been injured in the battles nearby,” the MSF’s statement said.
LittleAfrica News has extensively covered the severe problems Haiti is currently experiencing. Violent gangs have practically taken over Port-au-Prince with reports indicating they control over 60% of the city. The gangs in Port-au-Prince are carrying out murders, kidnappings, and sexual violence indiscriminately, with all members of the community feeling the brunt of the violence.
An intervention is much needed and Haiti’s acting Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, has called for international assistance. However, the Haitian people protested, rejecting foreign intervention. Haitian civil society leaders have labeled Henry an illegitimate leader, asking for him to step down.