The International Non-governmental Organisation, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), has announced that it will be closing its bases in Mamfe and Kumba in the Southwest region of Cameroon by August 1, 2022.
In a communique made public on Friday, July 15, 2022, MSF says the closure would result in the termination of the contracts of most of their staff. The closure follows the suspension of MSF activities by the Cameroon government three months ago.
Though the statement did not give the immediate reasons for the closure of the Kumba and Mamfe bases, it would appear the detention of four of their staff by the Cameroon authorities had something to do with the decision.
“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 humanitarian medical activities in the Southwest region. While two of the four were conditionally released in May, the other two remain in prison, and all are set to face trial”, the communique read in part.
“A small team and adequate resources will be maintained in the Southwest 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 persecuted for providing medical assistance to those in need”, the MSF communique went on.
The humanitarian organisation says it would consider reviewing this decision following the trial of their staff currently being detained and based on exchanges it would hold with the Cameroon government.
It is worth recalling here that the Cameroon government has accused MSF of collusion with separatists in the two English-speaking regions of the country. The NGO has denied the accusations.