Senegal blocks aid supplies from reaching war victims in Guinea Bissau

Bissau/Dakar/Barcelona - Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) requests that the Senegal government cease its ban on the transit of humanitarian aid through the border to Guinea Bissau. The aid goods travelling by road are intended for the war-affected population of Guinea Bissau.

Although all necessary procedures have been followed, the Senegalese authorities continue to cite administrative reasons for delaying the transport of aid through the border. Since last Saturday, two MSF lorries containing medical, logistical and sanitation equipment have been detained at Wassadou, the last post on the Senegal side of the border.

Other organisations are in the same situation; there are two lorries from AMI (a Portuguese organisation) and five lorries from the United Nations' World Food Program held up at Wassadou.

The MSF coordinator in Guinea Bissau, Gabriel Salazar says, "this blockage is having a direct and detrimental effect on our measles vaccination campaign in Bafata zone. Also, we were supposed to extend the campaign next week to Gabu, in the east of the country".

The two MSF lorries, which will soon be joined by a third arriving from Dakar, contain cholera prevention medication and materials. The supplies are intended for delivery to four out of the six regions of Guinea Bissau: Oio, Bafata, Gabu and Cacheu.

After almost three months of fighting between those loyal to president Joao Bernardo Vieira and military insurgents, the situation in Guinea Bissau is worsening. The population, among the poorest of the world, remains dependant on international humanitarian aid.

At this moment, the only practical way to bring aid into the country and avoid further catastrophe in this small West African country is to use the road from Senegal.