(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

MSF ordered out of north after third hijacking

[Lebanon] MSF says bureacracy is holding up operations too. [Date picture taken: 08/12/2006]
MSF

Nigerien authorities have ordered the French aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières to stop working in northern Niger after three of its vehicles were hijacked in the last week.

“They have been ordered to leave Agadez,” the governor of the Agadez region, Malam Boukar Abba told IRIN on 23 October. “[MSF] wanted to intervene in many different areas and we let them do a lot but… I do not see any point in them continuing – I don’t think MSF came here to be threatened at gunpoint.”

Two MSF four wheel drive cars were hijacked from a village where they were being used to deliver medicines 40km from Agadez on 22 October, according to Radio France Internationale. MSF in Paris said it was still investigating the report, which was confirmed by Governor Abba.

The medical non-governmental organisation has confirmed to IRIN that another one of its vehicles was hijacked on 15 October on the road between Agadez and Dagaba, around 45km north of Agadez.

MSF has been working in the Dagaba area of northern Niger, supporting medical facilities in areas isolated by a low-level conflict between militias and the army who have scattered landmines around many towns and villages in the region.

Abba said MSF was being ordered out for the protection of its staff. “Three vehicles in one week – I do not think that it is normal. Every time they go out, their cars are stolen,” Abba said.

“Even if they want to stay, that is my decision. I do not see any point in risking people’s lives for nothing.”

CLICK to read an IRIN report on the humanitarian crisis in northern Niger

ha/nr/vj

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