Democratic Republic of Congo/ICRC

Humanitarian catastrophe continues to escalate after shelling of civilian population

In February 2024, the Ndosho hospital in Goma, in the east of the DRC, received six times more patients than usual, forcing it to double its capacity and transfer patients to the provincial hospital in Bukavu. Forty per cent of these patients were victims of heavy artillery used in urban areas, including near camps for displaced people on the outskirts of Goma. This is a sign of a new turning point in the conflict in the DRC, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) teams on the ground.
  “I saw a baby who had been hit in the abdomen by shrapnel, a baby who was barely nine months old. It raises questions about the humanity that must prevail in armed conflicts, and it gives a very brief overview of the humanitarian disaster that is afflicting the east of the DRC today,” said Robert Mardini, the ICRC’s director-general, during a five-day visit to the country.
  The wounded are pouring into medical facilities, which are often deserted by medical staff who had to flee the fighting. Hospitals are desperately short of equipment and the remaining staff are forced to evacuate patients to other towns, particularly Goma. The ICRC is transporting the wounded by boat to Bukavu to relieve the Ndosho hospital.
  Between 1 October 2023 and 29 February 2024, 112 people injured in clashes were transferred from the Ndosho hospital in Goma to the Bukavu provincial hospital, a facility also supported by the ICRC.
  “In 2023, we had 60 patients a month. But since 2024, we have seen a spectacular increase in the number of patients. In February alone, we received 342 cases, which is six times more than in a normal situation,” explained Roger Mburano, the ICRC’s surgical project manager at Ndosho Hospital.
  The injuries recorded by the medical staff are varied and multiple. “There are abdominal injuries, there are chest injuries, there are head injuries, there are upper and lower limb injuries,” continued Roger Mburano. “We receive people injured by weapons and bomb explosions, as well as stab wounds,” he concluded.
  The ICRC has been supporting the Ndosho hospital in Goma since November 2012. Never before had the centre faced such an outbreak of violence, forcing the ICRC to increase its capacity from two to three surgical teams. This is in addition to the measures already taken, which include donations of equipment and medicines, staff training, financial aid, and the rehabilitation and fitting-out of various buildings. Since 2013, support has also been provided to the Bukavu provincial hospital, where the ICRC has opened a training centre for war surgery.

Source: of 6 March 2024

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