Médecins Sans Frontières Forced Out of Iran Province
10 October 2011 at 11:15 am
Médecins Sans Frontières has had to pull out of work in Zahedan in southeastern Iran due to repeated requests from authorities.
Zahedan – around 70 kilometres from the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan – has been off limits to foreigners due to security concerns however MSF has been operating in the region since 2001- providing medical care to Afghan refugees and Iranians.
Karine Gillain, head of mission in Tehran said in a blog on the MSF site, "We received ultimatums a number of times from Iranian authorities instructing us to leave the area. We would negotiate each time and always managed to delay closure for several months, but last week we had no choice and had to end our activities."
Since 2008 they were the only organisation in the area that were able to remain. They employed local staff and – with doctors, nurses and midwives – held on average of more than 5,000 free medical consultations per month in the two clinics that remained open.
The services included a dedicated maternal and child health clinic.
“We hope that the Ministry of Health facilities will care for the patients who came to our clinics, just as we have been sending them the most urgent cases up to now," said Gillain. "However, we fear that the poorest patients will not be able to pay for treatment or will be afraid to seek care."