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Medical charity MSF asked to leave Kurram Agency

Updated September 14, 2017

PESHAWAR: Pakistan on Wednesday told medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to stop work and leave its tribal areas, the health organisation said, ending its 14-year stay in the region.

MSF works out of two health facilities in the Kurram tribal region. Local officials say the MSF provides essential healthcare facilities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, of which Kurram is a part.

“We have been asked to close our medical activities in Kurram Agency,” the MSF said in a statement, adding that Pakistan had refused to issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the charity.

“MSF is saddened by the decision from the authorities responsible for NGOs’ working in Kurram Agency. The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with the Fata health ser­vices in Kurram Agency,” country representative Cath­erine Moody said in the statement. “MSF provides diagnosis and treatment facilities to the community for Leishmaniasis, immunisation for children, as well [as] ... responding to emergencies, disease outbreaks and mass casualties,” the organisation said.

Dr Mohammad Ishaq, who works in the region, said that the MSF was asked to leave because they did not have a valid NOC, adding he did not know why its licence to work there had been revoked.

“We have been working in Fata since 2004. We were never denied an NOC in the past. This will affect many patients in the area,” one MSF employee said, adding the charity had 70 staff members working at the two facilities.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2017