MSF suspends work in parts of the Congo-Brazzaville following robberies and threats

Organization calls on armed groups to respect the safety of aid workers.

Brazzaville - Following a number of security incidents affecting its staff, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to temporarily withdraw its teams from most of the southeastern Pool region of the Republic of Congo. As a result, all of MSF's activities in the districts of Kindamba, Mindouli and Vindza were stopped on 20 January 2006. The organization's activities in the Pool district of Kinkala will continue.

In the past two months, ambulances carrying patients and medical equipment - clearly identified as MSF vehicles - were stopped by armed men in three separate incidents. On two of the occasions, the men directly threatened MSF staff members and stole their equipment.

In 2005, MSF's teams provided medical assistance in three hospitals and nine health posts in the Pool region, conducting more than 116,000 free consultations with patients. The teams had also been giving emergency obstetrical care and treatment for patients with tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Because the decision to suspend its operations will affect many civilians living in the Pool area, MSF hopes that the involved authorities will create a rapid solution to this crisis.

MSF has been working in the Pool region since 2003.