Following a violent attack in Rann, Borno state, on Thursday 1 March, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) suspended its medical activities in the town and evacuated 22 national and international staff. It is still unclear how many people were killed and injured but before leaving, MSF medical staff treated 9 wounded patients.
The 40,000 people living in Rann were relying almost entirely on MSF’s services to access healthcare. “Leaving our patients, which include 60 children currently enrolled in our nutrition programme, without medical assistance, is an extremely painful decision,” says Kerri Ann Kelly, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Nigeria. “We will continue to evaluate how the situation evolves and we will return as soon as the conditions allow. This latest attack is a stark reminder that it is the people in Borno who are paying the price of this ruthless conflict. They are trapped in a deadly cycle of violence and are heavily reliant on external assistance to survive. In Rann, this is now considerably reduced.”
MSF teams have been providing medical care to the 40,000 people in Rann, since January 2017. Mobile teams delivered assistance on a regular basis, and a permanent medical team has been based in Rann since September 2017. The people in Rann are extremely vulnerable; many have sought shelter there after fleeing their homes. MSF has mainly been treating people for malaria, malnutrition and illnesses linked to poor living conditions. The town was cut off from the outside world during the months of the rainy season and no food or aid supplies were brought in during this time. We estimate that the mortality rate in children under five in Rann was twice that of the emergency threshold between May and November 2017.
MSF”s Field Communication officer in Abuja, Maro Verli, said on Friday that the humanitarian organisation has no option for now than to suspend all their operations in the volatile area.
“Following the violent attack in Rann, Borno state, on Thursday 1 March, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) decided to suspend its medical activities in the town.
“MSF team has been providing medical care to the 40,000 people in Rann, since January 2017. Mobile teams delivered assistance on a regular basis, and a permanent medical team has been based in Rann since September 2017.”
Thursday’s attack is the second major one on Rann. About 200 persons were killed in January 2017 when a Nigerian military plane mistakenly dropped bombs on the Rann IDP camp.