Dutch Section of MSF Expelled from Darfur

Leaving Hundreds of Thousands Without Critical Medical Aid

The Government of Sudan has informed on 4 March the Dutch section of the international organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) that they are expelled from Darfur. This follows a previous order, issued on March 2nd, for MSF to remove all international staff from a number of project sites. The organisation is outraged at the decision which leaves more than 200,000 of our patients without essential medical care.

MSF was summoned to meet with the authorities shortly after the International Criminal Court (ICC) announcement regarding the indictment of President Omar el-Bashir and told that it must cease all activities and prepare staff for immediate departure from the country. No further explanation for the decision was given. The Dutch section of MSF runs medical activities in three sites in South Darfur, in the areas of Kalma, Muhajariya and Feina.

This expulsion comes at a time when meningitis, a deadly disease if left untreated, has broken out in Kalma Camp, temporary home to more than 90,000 internally displaced persons. It also leaves an estimated 70,000 people without any access to healthcare in Muhajariya, due to the closure of the area’s only hospital, and forces the closure of health clinics in and around Feina, where MSF treats an average of 3,000 people each month.

MSF firmly reiterates that the organisation is completely independent of the ICC, and that MSF does not cooperate or provide any information to it. “It is absurd that we as an independent and impartial organisation have been caught up in a political and judicial process”, says Operational Director of MSF Holland, Arjan HEHENKAMP. “MSF has worked tirelessly to deliver medical aid to the people of Darfur since the beginning of the crisis. It is completely unacceptable that the people of Darfur are being deprived of essential medical care”.

MSF Holland in Darfur
Since May 2004, MSF Holland has been providing care in South Darfur’s Kalma camp, home to more than 90,000 displaced people. It is one of the country’s biggest camps. The MSF clinic saw its number of patients double in 2008, partially because a number of health care providers stopped working in the camp. In and around Muhajariya, a large town in South Darfur, MSF provides medical care to around 70,000 people. In the eastern Jebel Marra region, MSF runs a small outreach clinic that is the main health centre for thousands of displaced people living in the mountains. MSF staff treats about 3,000 patients a month in Feina and through a mobile clinic in Gulombei.

MSF in Darfur
At this moment, other MSF sections continue to work in a number of locations throughout Darfur.