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CAR: A tribute to Arsène Bassanganam

23 May 2016

Médecins Sans Frontières today pays tribute to dedicated staff member Arsène Bassanganam, who was killed during an ambush against one of our convoys in Central African Republic (CAR). On Wednesday 18 May – a well-identified Médecins Sans Frontières team of two vehicles, transporting staff and patients ,was stopped by armed men in Kouki, 82 km north of Bossangoa. The team was forced out of the cars. They were then robbed of personal belongings and medication. Arsene was shot and killed after he and his colleagues were forced to lie face down on the ground for more than 40 minutes.

We are devastated at the loss of our dedicated colleague Arsène, who was killed while helping to deliver lifesaving medical aid to people living in isolated communities around Bossangoa,” says Michelle Chouinard, Médecins Sans Frontières' head of mission in CAR. “Arsène started working as a driver for Médecins Sans Frontières in January 2014 when the crisis and fighting in CAR was still at its height and much of the population of Bossangoa was living in camps for internally displaced people (IDP). Despite the dangers, he wanted to help his community during this time of crisis. Arsène was born and lived in Bossangoa. From 2000 to 2010, he was a driver for commercial companies.

Arsène was a highly accomplished driver and did everything in his power to keep our staff safe and secure. He knew the roads in this part of the country like the back of his hand and was a devoted, courageous, honest and discreet man. He was a staff representative at Médecins Sans Frontières, caring and representing his colleagues, and assisting his employer in any way he could. On behalf of everyone at Médecins Sans Frontières, we extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to Arsene’s friends and family. Arsène was 45 years old and leaves behind 12 children."

Activities in the area will remain suspended until Médecins Sans Frontières receives adequate guarantees for the safety for its staff and the acceptance of its medical and humanitarian activities. We expect a full inquiry by the local police and authorities and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.