Amsterdam/Bogotá, February 9, 2006 – Two staff members of the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have been detained by an armed group in the northeast of Colombia. The staff members were part of a team exploring possibilities to expand health services to the population in Norte de Santander, a province isolated by violence.
"We ask for their immediate release," says Geoff Prescott, general director of MSF-Holland. "As an independent humanitarian organization we expect that all parties respect our neutrality and impartiality."
MSF has been providing essential medical services to vulnerable and displaced civilians throughout Colombia since 1985. In many locations, MSF teams use mobile clinics to reach communities that often have no other access to healthcare. Spending two to three days at each site, the teams see an average of 90 patients per day. At present MSF has 49 international and over 150 national staff working in Colombia.
As far as MSF is able to establish, the two detained staff members have been treated well and are in good condition. MSF has taken precautionary measures regarding its projects and the safety of its staff in Colombia.