MSF workers held in Sierra Leone

PRESS RELEASE, Paris, December 9, 1999 - Two volunteers of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are being held by RUF rebels in Sierra Leone. A doctor and a logistician of MSF, who have been opening a health project in the district of Kailahun, have been held for 48 hours by RUF authorities controlling the region. The two volunteers, with whom there has been some contact in the last two days, are Belgian and German nationals. They report to be in good health. During a telephone contact, a member of RUF expressed the dissatisfaction of Mr Sam Bockarie, one of the rebel movement's leaders, with the process of disarmament and demobilisation of fighters in Sierra Leone. His complaints are directed towards the international community. According to his spokesman, he considers that the implementation of this process is not appropriate. MSF has absolutely no implication in this process and requests that these two volunteers be allowed to leave the region of Kailahun immediately. MSF started its activities in this area in August 1999 with vaccination campaigns against measles, polio and tetanus. The campaigns completed, the MSF team's objective has been to restart curative medical activities for the civil population for whom access to health care has been practically non-existent during the past several years. MSF has been active in Sierra Leone since 1990. 30 volunteers are currently working in the country.