Doctors quit Nigeria terror hotspots


Médecins Sans Frontières

from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) THOUSANDS of civilians affected by insurgency in north-eastern Nigeria have suffered a further blow after a medical organisation withdrew its services because of terror by Islamist groups.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) has been forced to close medical activities in the Borno State due to security developments in the area and threats to humanitarian workers.

MSF had operations in the towns of Gwoza and Pulka.

MSF has been running five hospitals across Borno, providing specialised paediatric care, treatment for malnutrition and malaria, maternity care, mental health treatment, surgery, and treatment for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

“Our decision to leave Gwoza and Pulka has been a very painful one,” said Ahsan Abbasi, MSF Head of Mission in Nigeria.

“We know it will have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of people, who will be cut off from humanitarian aid and healthcare services.”

Abbasi said the decision was inevitable.

“However, we need to strike the right balance with acceptable risks to be taken by our staff.”

In the past months, fighting in the area has led to changes among the non-state armed groups controlling the affected areas.

The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) has expanded its influence in the northeast and beyond.

In addition, the group has declared nongovernmental organisations as a legitimate target, prompting humanitarian organisations to gradually reduce their presence.

Abbasi however assured should the situation change, MSF will reassess the security of the ground and the viability to resume operations.

“Our social mission to save lives remains unchanged.”

Islamist sects have been carrying out attacks in northeast Nigeria for more than a decade.

Over 30 000 people are estimated to have been killed while more than three million others displaced.

– CAJ News



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