Cameroon: MSF withdrawing from restive southwest

APA-Douala (Cameroon)

Doctors Without Borders says it is temporarily ending its presence in Cameroon's restive southwest region where some of its workers are being detained by the government.

The region has been rocked by a disruptive and deadly separatist rebellion by Anglophone insurgents since 2016.

''MSF is taking the difficult decision to close our project bases in Kumba and Mamfe, in the South-West region of Cameroon. This decision will take effect as of 1 August and will result in the termination of contracts of the majority of our staff'' it said in a statement to APA on Tuesday.

 This closure follows the suspension of MSF activities three months ago.

The MSF has been working to secure the release of four its workers who were detained, since December 2021 and January 2022, as they carried out medical humanitarian activities in the South-West region. 

While two of the four were conditionally released in May, the other two remain in prison and all of them are set to face trial.

MSF said a small team will be maintained in the South-West region to support the release and resolution of the cases, as well as to continue dialogue with the authorities to re-establish conditions enabling them to carry out activities in a safe environment. 

''We took this decision as we cannot indefinitely maintain our teams with no clear visibility of when we may restart our activities, nor of the likelihood that our staff could work in conditions where they won’t be prosecuted for providing medical assistance to those in need'' MSF said.

However, it will consider reviewing this decision following the trial and based on exchanges with Cameroon’s government. 

''We continue to seek to improve the humanitarian notification system, so that staff can hopefully return to their jobs in confidence that their lifesaving work does not risk legal prosecution. We remain hopeful that we will be able to find common ground with the authorities that could enable MSF to support the local health system and to deliver medical assistance to local people'' it said.

As an international medical organisation, MSF provides impartial medical support to every patient in need, in line with medical ethics and international humanitarian law


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