- The humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) again has evacuated parts of its staff in the Pool region in Congo Brazzaville due to "numerous security incidents". The group only returned to the war-ravaged area in August this year.
The French branch of MSF has downscaled its works in the south-western Congolese district of Mindouli in the war devastated Pool region "following numerous security incidents." MSF-France thus decided to suspend some of its activities.
Mobile clinics activities are now on stand by while the local hospital at Mindouli is still supported by MSF and its staff. Renewed fighting and lawless conditions in the region had made the mobile clinics too dangerous for MSF medics to operate.
The Congolese Pool region has been the site of armed conflict between government troops and the "Ninja" militias of Rev Frederic Bitsangou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi, for several years. The local civil war has causes tens of thousands of people to leave their farms and flee to the surrounding areas.
MSF had to evacuate the Pool region in September 2002, as the fighting was devastating the area and no civilian targets were spared. The fighting left "a landscape of complete desolation," as Patrick Deschamps, an MSF doctor, reported after recently touring the region. Not one building was left unharmed and people were living under the most basic conditions.
The organisation returned to the "desolated area" in August this year, when tranquillity had returned and after the Brazzaville government allowed their return. Meanwhile, a ceasefire had been signed and many of the region's displaced people were returning to find their homes in ruins. A peace accord was signed on 17 March.
Upon their return in August, MSF immediately started reconstructing the Mindouli hospital and carrying out "mobile" medical consultations in ten villages of the district. Dr Deschamps, who participated in these mobile consultations, recently reported that these had represented the first and only medical care given to the village returnees that were struggling to rebuild their villages.
The return of the Pool's civilians, of humanitarian organisations and the beginning reconstruction however now seems jeopardised by returning insecurity. According to local civilians, most incidents have been produced by frustrated government soldiers that have not received salaries or food from the Brazzaville authorities.
The "Ninja" fighters meanwhile are reported to remain calm, although there is growing concern over government failure to reintegrate the ex-rebels into society, which had been a part of the March peace deal.
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