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Cameroon: DWB suspends activities in Southwest Due to Detention of Four Staff Members

SouthWest region with no DWB

Doctors Without Borders ,DWB announced the suspension of its  activities in  Cameroon’s  English-speaking South West Region due to the detention four local employees accused by local authorities of “complicity” with separatists.

DWB said it had ceased its activities ” as of March 29, in order to focus on securing the safe release of its staff”. This is the first time DWB has publicly mentioned the arrests, said Scheherazade Bouabid, DWB’s head of communications for Central and West Africa.
At the end of 2020, the Cameroonian government suspended DWB operations in the northwest, the country’s second largest English-speaking region, accusing its medical teams of ” collusion ” with armed separatist groups.

According to the communique, the difficult relationship with the government has continued to make it impossible for the DWB to continue providing support while maintaining the standards the organisation is committed to ensuring for its patients

Despite their continued efforts and unwavering commitment to improve access to health services in vulnerable communities, DWB says the current situation has makes it impossible for them to continue providing this support, while maintaining the standards the organisation is committed to ensure for its patients.

In parallel with the legal procedures, DWB representatives engaged with the Cameroonian authorities and other stakeholders, at different levels by providing information and clarity on the medical activities and procedures to facilitate their release but this did not lead to a significant progress in their cases.
Furthermore, in February, an independent Cameroonian organization concluded in a report about the detentions, commissioned by the Ministry of Defense, that DWB and its colleagues should be exonerated of any wrongdoing, and that the organization was acting in accordance with its humanitarian principles and that our colleagues should therefore be released immediately.
We find ourselves in an untenable position: on the one hand our activities are required, and on the other hand those who provide the medical support run the risk of being persecuted for doing their work. In order to fulfil our duty to our patients, we need the basic preconditions in place to allow us to carry out our activities in a safe and secure environment,” says Sylvain Groulx, Operations Manager of DWB’s programs in Central Africa.
DWB remains available to continue the dialogue with the authorities to resolve this issue as soon as possible, so that we can resume our medical-humanitarian activities”.

Published on 03.01.2023

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