from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – EFFORTS to eradicate the deadly Ebola have suffered a severe blow after an international medical humanitarian organisation ended its activities northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have shelved operations in the Biakato region of the Ituri Province in protest of the military around and within health structures.
“We are no longer able to work in accordance with our principles of neutrality and impartiality,” said Ewenn Chenard, MSF emergency coordinator.
“We regret this decision, but the presence of armed forces around and within the health structures of Biakato goes against our principles.”
The security deployment in Biakato follows a series of attacks in late November during which rebel groups murdered three aid workers.
Chenard said while the deployment was deployed to protect civilians, MSF believes the military presence in health facilities undermines the neutrality and impartiality of medical aid.
“It is essential that health structures remain free of weapons so that communities feel safe to come and seek care.”
MSF has worked in Ituri since 2003, providing lifesaving care to vulnerable populations.
It has expanded its operations since the start of the DRC’s worst outbreak of Ebola in August last year.
More than 2 200 people have died from the virus.
Insecurity by armed groups is affecting the response to the crisis.
– CAJ News