Yesterday, 28th April, marked exactly four months since some staff of Doctor Without Borders were arrested and detained for carrying out humanitarian activities in the South West Region of Cameroon.
It was in the morning of December 26, 2021 when Marguerite and Ashu were commissioned by the MSF (Médicins Sans Fontiers) to Tinto, to pick up a man, wounded by a gunshot.
Ashu is an ambulance driver while Marguerite is a nurse.
After hours of search, the victim was finally located by the MSF staff who together headed towards the kumba hospital.
Meanwhile, the MSF communicated as agreed with the authorities, the departure point of the ambulance, it’s destination, the type of patient it was transporting, whether or not the patient had an identity document and whether or not they were accompanied by anyone. This was in a bid to avoid unnecessary prolonged stops at checkpoints which could be detrimental to the patient.
Marguerite and Ashu had no picture of what awaited them until they were denied passage at the Nguti checkpoint, while still on their way to the Kumba hospital.
They were later detained despite all explanations, under the pretext that they had collaborations with separatist rebels. The two MSF colleagues were taken to the Buea prison on December 28, where they have now spent 4 months.
None of the explanations given by the organization have been able to secure the release of Ashu and Marguerite till date.
Some weeks later, two other MSF workers were accused of collaboration with the secessionist, leading to their arrest as well.
Despite the willingness of the MSF to continously extend helping hands to victims in the war affected areas of the country, the continous detention of its workers has served a stumbling block to them. This was the main reason for their withdrawal from the South West Region on March 29, 2022.
However, the MSF has made itself available to continue dialogue with authorities, to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
By Amina Hilda.