Doctors Without Borders Suspends Work in Parts of Republic of Congo Following Robberies and Threats

Organization calls on armed groups to respect safety of aid workers

Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, January 24, 2006 - Following a number of security incidents affecting its staff, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to temporarily withdraw its teams from most of the southeastern Pool region of the Republic of Congo, the organization has announced. As a result, all of MSF's activities in the districts of Kindamba, Mindouli, and Vindza were stopped on January 20. 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 different 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 patient consultations. The teams had also been providing 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.