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MSF Reduces Medical Team In Zamfara Over Renewed Attacks

The international humanitarian group’s decision comes after terrorists attacked communities close to Zurmi General Hospital. 

A resurgence of terrorist attacks has forced Medicins san Frontieres (MSF), a medical humanitarian group, to partially shut down its activities in Zamfara state, North West Nigeria by reducing its medical team. 

The aid group said renewed attacks by terrorists in Zurmi local government area of the state have continued to threaten the safety of patients and its staffers. 

Consequently, it had to evacuate its medical teams, which it noted has affected the performance of its workers. It added that the security situation does not only threaten the safety of MSF staff but even that of patients. 

Adjide Hermann, MSF deputy field coordinator in Zurmi said they were left with no option than to reduce the number of their staff because of the fear of what may happen next. “Some of the patients refuse to leave the hospital out of fear,” Hermann added. 

Expressing concern regarding the security situation, Dr. Simba Tirima, MSF country representative, said, “This situation is untenable; we urgently appeal to the parties involved in the conflict to cease their hostilities to protect the population. This is also crucial to safeguard the medical mission and to maintain the safety of patients and medical staff.”

MSF said it will continue its operation in the state but hopes to see an improvement in the security situation. It also said the renewed attacks have made its staff scamper for safety at the security room of the hospital. 

Dr Tirima told HumAngle they reduced their team significantly, contrary to media reports that the aid group has entirely shut down operations in the state. 

He said MSF only suspended its outreach programmes but its hospital-based activities are still ongoing. 

“We hope the situation will improve soon so that we can continue serving the population in need. Nevertheless as much as we are duty bound to serve those in need, we also have a duty to care for our staff,” he told HumAngle. 

While promising to continue monitoring the situation closely, the MSF representative noted that, “Any decision requires careful thoughts because lives are at stake.”

Zamfara in northwestern Nigeria is experiencing activities of terrorists who main, kidnap residents for ransom, rape and burn villages. In some cases, the terrorists kill people even after the payment of hefty sum of money as ransom. 

Sometimes, terrorists impose “taxes” on residents and threaten to abduct members of the community that are unable to pay. 

Recently, the terrorists raided Zurmi and engaged men of the Nigerian Army in a crossfire. In that attack, at least ten residents of the community were abducted. 

In January 2022, the terrorists killed at least 200 people within two days in the deadliest attack it made in the state. 

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Mahdi Garba

Mahdi Garba covers development, security, conflict, climate & disinformation at HumAngle. He heads the Humanitarian Desk at HumAngle. He tweets regularly @MahdiGarba.

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