December 16, 2009

MSF announced its withdrawal of all international staff from a Tari, Papua New Guinea, hospital because of continued insecurity on hospital grounds. “In the past few weeks, there have been repeated security incidents including threats to our staff that we cannot tolerate,” said Monique Nagelkerke, head of mission for MSF in the country.

On Dec. 15, 2009, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced its withdrawal of all international staff from a Tari, Papua New Guinea, hospital because of continued insecurity on hospital grounds. “In the past few weeks, there have been repeated security incidents including threats to our staff that we cannot tolerate,” said Monique Nagelkerke, head of mission for MSF in the country. “MSF staff must be safe to provide urgent lifesaving care and the authorities must do everything they can to ensure a safe working environment for all staff at the Tari Hospital.”

In the past few weeks, there have been at least 10 security incidents, including threats made to MSF staff by hospital security guards, drunken men on hospital grounds threatening hospital staff with weapons, and repeated break-ins.

Authorities have made promises to address these issues by repairing the fence and firing the guards who cause problems and replacing them, but so far nothing has been done. Despite trying to assist in increasing security at the hospital, local police are unable to respond in a timely manner because they lack adequate resources.

MSF will continue to try to run programs with a limited Papua New Guinean staff presence, but will have to refer surgical patients to other facilities for treatment at this time. MSF hopes local staff and all medical and humanitarian workers will be safe and protected as they work in Tari and throughout Papua New Guinea.
In a country where appropriate medical and psychosocial services for survivors of violence are largely non-existent, MSF strives to address the immediate needs of victims. In Tari hospital, MSF staff provide comprehensive emergency surgical services as well as integrated medical and psychosocial care for survivors of sexual and family violence.

Throughout 2009, MSF has treated more than 4,500 patients in Tari and has been running a women and children’s support center in the city of Lae. The support center has served close to 5,000 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence since 2008. Recently, MSF has been assisting the ministry of health and the World Health Organization in responding to an outbreak of cholera that has affected more than 1,300 people in three provinces since November 2009.

MSF is an independent medical humanitarian agency that has been operating in Papua New Guinea since 2007.

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