Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is taking the difficult decision to close our project bases in Kumba and Mamfe, in the South-West region of Cameroon. This decision will take effect as of 1 August and will result in the termination of contracts of the majority of our staff.
This closure follows the suspension of MSF activities three months ago.
We have been working to secure the release of four MSF colleagues who have been unjustly detained, since December 2021 and January 2022, as they carried out medical humanitarian activities in in the South-West region. While two of the four were conditionally released in May, the other two remain in prison and all of them are set to face trial.
A small team and adequate resources will be maintained in the South-West region to support the release and resolution of the cases, as well as to continue dialogue with the authorities as we seek to re-establish conditions enabling us to carry out our activities in a safe environment.
We took this decision as we cannot indefinitely maintain our teams with no clear visibility of when we may restart our activities, nor of the likelihood that our staff could work in conditions where they won’t be prosecuted for providing medical assistance to those in need.
MSF will consider reviewing this decision following the trial and based on our exchanges with Cameroon’s government. We continue to seek to improve the humanitarian notification system*, so that staff can hopefully return to their jobs in confidence that their lifesaving work does not risk legal prosecution. We remain hopeful that we will be able to find common ground with the authorities, and consequently support the local health system to deliver medical assistance to local people.
As an international medical organisation, MSF provides impartial medical support to every patient in need, in line with medical ethics and international humanitarian law.
*An agreement we have with all parties in the area to ensure the safe movement of our staff and patients.