The international humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) Medecins sans Frontiere (MSF) has decided to suspend its activities in the town of Kabo in the Ouham prefecture which is 446 kilometres from Bangui, the capital, for two weeks.
The decision follows an incident with combatants of an armed rebel movement operating in the area.
A spokesperson for the MSF refused to reveal the “incident” that led to the suspension of its activities, excusing that negotiations with the armed group are still ongoing and any further declaration could compromise the talks.
Though the exact incident has not been made public in a communiqué issued by the French NGO, eyewitnesses told HumAngle in Bangui yesterday that the incident involved the harassment of MSF staff and the seizure of some of its goods including drugs and humanitarian assistance intended to be distributed amongst displaced persons.
“The plethora of armed groups operating in the Central African Republic usually see NGOs bringing humanitarian assistance to the poor as their milking cows. Most times, they attack humanitarian convoys and make away with foodstuff and drugs intended for displaced persons and poor families.
“It is almost certain this is what happened between the MSF and the armed group in question”, a civil society activist, who spoke anonymously, told HumAngle.
The said armed group has been identified as the Mouvement Patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) led by self-proclaimed general Mahamat Alkhatim, a Chadian who arrived in the Central African Republic in 2003.
It should be recalled here that this is not the first time the MSF or other international humanitarian organisations have been forced to suspend operations in some parts of the Central African Republic because of incidents with armed groups.
“The most disturbing aspect of all these ‘incidents’ is that the government does not seem to be doing much to put an end to them.
This is because some of the armed groups have representatives in high places in government who seem to caution these despicable acts by their combatants”, added our source quoted earlier.