MSF Emergency Centre in Turgeau. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, June 21, 2022. This ambulance prepares to transport a patient with a head injury to another health facility. MSF/Johnson Sabin © MSF/Johnson Sabin

Haiti: Attack on ambulance forces MSF to suspend activities in Turgeau Emergency Centre

On Tuesday, a group of armed men stopped an Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ambulance in Port-au-Prince. They took a patient out by force and killed him. MSF is suspending all activities in the Emergency Centre indefinitely.

On Tuesday 12 December at 4:00 p.m., a severely wounded man was admitted to MSF’s Emergency Centre in Turgeau, a neighbourhood close to the city centre of Port-au-Prince. The patient’s condition was critical, and the medical team decided to transfer him to another hospital where he could receive the necessary specialised care.

Around 5:30 p.m., a convoy of two ambulances left the Emergency Centre, for two patient transfers. A few meters outside the Centre however, a dozen armed individuals appeared from a backstreet and blocked the convoy. They beat on the hood of the ambulance and fired shots in the air. They looked inside the first ambulance and ordered the second ambulance to return to the Emergency Centre. They took the patient from the first ambulance by force. They beat him and shot him several times. When he was dead, they fled the scene.

“We need a minimum of safety to carry out our medical mission. We can’t work if our medical mission is threatened by violence,” says Benoît Vasseur, MSF’s Head of Mission in Haiti. “MSF is one of the very few international organisations delivering medical care in the capital. We can’t accept that our ambulances are attacked, and our patients are beaten and killed. To carry out our work, our medical facilities, our staff, and our patients must be respected.”

“We can see the Haitians are desperate and furious. They are subjected to terrible cruelties on a daily basis. We are direct witnesses of it: rape, torture, murder attempts. All our medical services are here to provide care  to people in this midst of this violence.”

MSF unfortunately has to announce the indefinite suspension of all activities in its Emergency Centre of Turgeau, to allow for an analysis of the attack, and the re-evaluation of the risk for its staff and patients.

MSF continues to offer free, high-quality healthcare in its other facilities: MSF’s hospital in Cité Soleil, its hospital in Tabarre (providing trauma and burns care), and a clinic for survivors of sexual violence in Delmas 33, Pran Men’m . Our mobile clinics continue to work in different areas of the city and in camps for displaced people. In the South of the country, the maternity clinic in Port-à-Piment remains open as well.