The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders says it has been forced to
end efforts to help malnourished children in the Maradi region of Niger. In
July, the government ordered the group, also known as MSF, to suspend its operations,
saying it had exaggerated the malnutrition problem. Repeated attempts to
overturn the suspension have failed.
de Torrente, executive director of MSF-USA, says, “So, clearly this is the
worst possible outcome. After months of negotiations with the government of
Niger, we’ve made every effort to determine the reasons for the suspension, to
clarify our medical work, to redefine the methods of our operations in concert
with the authorities.”
He says the group appealed the suspension at the
“Ten days ago, we called on the president of Niger to intervene
and we have only received silence in response. We therefore have been left with
no other recourse and are now forced to close the program. The timing of this
could not be worse. The suspension of activities in July occurred really at the
most difficult time of the year for young children in Niger. It’s the period
between harvests, the so-called hunger gap. And it’s also a period when malaria
is at its peak,” he says.
He says that many children could suffer as a result
of the loss of the feeding programs.
activities were suspended in July, our team in Maradi was treating more than
3,000 children and received 500 new admissions into the program per week.… A
nutritional survey that was conducted in June by the government of Niger,
together with UNICEF, estimated the number of children in the Maradi region
suffering from acute malnutrition to be between 35,000 and 67,000. It’s
therefore all the more perplexing and alarming that recent public statements by
officials in Niger downplay, if not deny, this reality,” he says.