Doctors Without Borders Leave Afghanistan

With a deep feeling of sadness and anger Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also know as Doctors Without Borders, announces today the closure of all medical programs in Afghanistan. MSF is taking this decision in the aftermath of the killing of five MSF aid workers in a deliberate attack on June 2nd, when a clearly marked MSF vehicle was ambushed in the northerwestern province of Badghis. Five of our colleagues were mercilessly shot in the attack. This targeted killing of five of its aid workers is unprecedented in the history of MSF, which has been delivering medical humanitarian assistance in some of the most violent conflicts around the world over the last 30 years.

Although government officials have presented MSF with credible evidence that local commanders conducted the attack, they have neither detained nor publicly called for their arrest. The lack of government response to the killings represents a failure of responsibility and an inadequate commitment to the safety of aid workers on its soil.

In addition, following the assassinations, a Taliban spokesperson claimed responsibility for the murders and stated later that organizations like MSF work for American interests, are therefore targets and would be at risk of further attacks. This false accusation is particularly unjustified as MSF honors the separation of aid from political motives as a founding principle. The sole aim of the organization is to provide assistance to populations in distress in the name of medical ethics and solely based on their needs. This threat undeniably constitutes a refusal by the Taliban to accept independent and impartial humanitarian action.

Over the last 24 years, MSF has continued to provide health care throughout difficult periods of Afghanistan's history, regardless of the political party or military group in power.

"After having worked nearly without interruption alongside the most vulnerable Afghan people since 1980, it is with outrage and bitterness that we take the decision to abandon them. But we simply cannot sacrifice the security of our volunteers while warring parties seek to target and kill humanitarian workers. Ultimately it is the sick and destitute that suffer." said Marine Buissonniere, Secretary General of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The violence directed against humanitarian aid workers has come in a context in which the US backed coalition has consistently sought to use humanitarian aid to build support for its military and political ambitions. MSF denounces the coalition's attempts to co-opt humanitarian aid and use it to "win hearts and minds". By doing so, providing aid is no longer seen as an impartial and neutral act, endangering the lives of humanitarian volunteers and jeopardizing the aid to people in need. Only recently, on May 12th 2004, MSF publicly condemned the distribution of leaflets by the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan in which the population was informed that providing information about the Taliban and al Qaeda was necessary if they wanted the delivery of aid to continue.

Humanitarian assistance is only possible when armed actors respect the safety of humanitarian workers, more than 30 of whom have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2003. The killing of our colleagues, the government's failure to arrest the culprits and the false allegations by the Taliban has regrettably made it impossible for MSF to continue providing assistance to the Afghan people.

Until the assassinations, MSF provided health care in 13 provinces with 80 international volunteers and 1,400 Afghan staff. Our projects included the provision of basic and hospital level health care as well as tuberculosis treatment and programs to reduce maternal mortality. In the coming weeks, MSF will complete the hand over of its programmers to the Ministry of Health and other organizations. As MSF leaves Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of our five colleagues. At the same time MSF takes this decision with great sadness for the people we will fail to assist.


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Older Comments:
Fayaz may be you know that your name in Arabic means "The one who wins" & I hope you are one.
These followings are extracts from MSF web site that may answer some of your questions with regard to the independence of MSF; I am not associated with MSF but thought that this may be of assistance. You may want to check their site & other site for that matter. To answer your concern about kids & parents, let my illustrate the following, it is not news when dog bites man but it becomes one when man bites dog, to put it mildly it is the odds that gets published most of the time & not the norm. Space constraints limited my input.
MSF was founded in 1971 by a small group of French doctors who believed that all people have the right to medical care regardless of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.
A private, nonprofit organization, MSF is at the forefront of emergency health care as well as care for populations suffering from endemic diseases and neglect. MSF provides primary health care, performs surgery, rehabilitates hospitals and clinics, runs nutrition and sanitation programs, trains local medical personnel, and provides mental health care. Through longer-term programs, MSF treats chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, sleeping sickness, and AIDS; assists with the medical and psychological problems of marginalized populations including street children and ethnic minorities; and brings health care to remote, isolated areas where resources and training are limited
To maintain its operational independence and flexibility, MSF relies on the general public for the majority of its operating funds. Other financial support is provided by foundations, corporations, nonprofit organizations, the U.S. and other governments, and international agencies. The MSF international network collectively strives to direct at least 80 percent of its expenditures to program activities.
God bless.

This shows how stupid some muslims are. here are people helping them- saving their lives. Instead of making dawah to them, these muslims are killing them!!! May Allah guide us!

from where does an organisation such as MSF get their funding? just tabulate the cost and see for yourself if the funds required to manage a huge oragnisation like this funds are conceivalble from a west whose children are largely indifferent to the plight of their own parents and consign them to a lonely life.

if the MSF hands were actually clean, its inconceivable that any group would want to target them.

I am saddened that the Doctors Without Borders are being forced out of Afghanistan after working here for over 20 years. When I read: "Only recently, on May 12th 2004, MSF publicly condemned the distribution of leaflets by the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan in which the population was informed that providing information about the Taliban and al Qaeda was necessary if they wanted the delivery of aid to continue."...I wonder if they didn't get attacked for expressing a viewpoint. Additionally, the fact that the US didn't respond on their behalf is suspect. I don't trust that the Taliban was responsible for the killings. I think the DWB were too forthright with their views and got punished for it. Thank you.

I am saddened that the good works of Doctors Without Borders are being forced out of Afghanistan. When I read that: Only recently, on May 12th 2004, MSF publicly condemned the distribution of leaflets by the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan in which the population was informed that providing information about the Taliban and al Qaeda was necessary if they wanted the delivery of aid to continue....I now understand why their members are being killed. They are a threat to the coalition forces merely by taking a stand on distribution of leaflets. I do not believe that after working in Afghanistan since 1980, the Taliban would turn against them now. And the fact that the US has not stood by them to respond on their behalf is suspect.

I am sorry about the loss of these MSF workers (while they were somewhere northeast of Herat) and am sorry about the resulting diminishment of health care for the women and children of Afghanistan. Improvements in women's and children's health would appear to have consistently been what MSF was striving for in Afghanistan - well before the U.S. invasion nearly three years ago.

MSF has indeed opposed a policy of utilizing foreign aid to encourage cooperation with anti-Taliban forces. It seems reasonable to imagine that the "American interests" (to which the self-purported Taliban spokesman, Mullah Abdul Hakim Latifi, was referring) actually concerned the empowerment of women - or perhaps more specifically the ability for women to receive health care from foreigners who happen to be men.

And what reward might await those who gun down those who are striving in compassion - gunning them down perhaps out of jealousy? Needless to say, I am hoping not to receive a portion the like thereof. (Astaghfirullah!)

I am particularly annoyed by armed organisations who frequently act like such selfish spoiled brats.

I thought the "Land of the braves" (the WEST) breeds brave creatures with brave hearts.

What's happening? Can't handle the "towel-wearing" mujahadeens anymore?

Everything the west has been doing is just a show. No Afghans will be ever helped exactly as they were left hanging by threads in the 80s. And we've got another puppet, Hamid Karzai, of the United States.

The blame,however, falls squarely on Muslims. Many follwers of Islam are sleeping with enemies of Islam. That's why Muslims in many countries are suffering.

MSF deserves more protection as well as recognition for the wonderful impertial standards they upheld in Afghanistan, literally saving and improving hundreds of thousands of lives. As well as the life transforming works they continue to do in many Muslim and other regions of the globe.