MSF suspends medical activities in SWR of Cameroon, says they need to make sure staff don’t run the risk of being persecuted

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Tuesday officially announced the suspension of their humanitarian activities in the Southwestern region of Cameroon. 

“We have decided to suspend our medical activities in Southwest region since 29 March, to work exclusively on securing the safe release of our colleagues,” the international humanitarian organization said in a statement.

The announcement came three months after the detention of four MSF staff members who were on duty.

“Even when our medical activities are required, we can’t continue like this. We need to make sure that those providing the medical support don’t run the risk of being persecuted for doing their work,” MSF said in a tweet.

On 27 December 2021, two MSF staff members were arrested after the ambulance in which they were transferring a patient with gunshot wounds, in need of urgent assistance, was stopped at the Nguti (Southwest region, Cameroon) checkpoint. They are being investigated for complicity with secessionism simply for carrying out their medical duties. In the weeks that followed, two other MSF staff members and collaborators were also arrested by the gendarmerie.

In August 2021, MSF announced that after nearly eight months of suspension by the Cameroonian authorities, they were forced to withdraw teams from the North-West region, an area badly affected by years of armed violence between security forces and armed separatist groups.

The Cameroon government has accused MSF of having close relations with separatists who are fighting to create a breakaway English-speaking state.

MSF has been operating in Cameroon since 1984. The aid group gives medical assistance to people suffering Boko Haram atrocities in Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria. MSF provides surgical care, malaria treatment and treatment for COVID-19 patients in Cameroon’s restive English-speaking southwest region.

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