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Médecins sans frontières (MSF) phases out activities in Benue

Médecins sans frontières (MSF)
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After six years of providing medical humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people in Benue state, Nigeria, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has taken the difficult decision to phase out our activities. By the end of June, basic healthcare and decentralised activities will be concluded. Family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare activities will cease as of the end of July, and comprehensive sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) care will end in August.

This decision was made considering the medical needs in Nigeria and to focus on reinforcing MSF’s response in other parts of the country. MSF operations’ core mission is to provide urgent medical humanitarian assistance in emergency contexts, and we have a responsibility to ensure this capacity to provide assistance at a moment’s notice is maintained.  

In 2018, MSF launched an emergency response to meet the medical and humanitarian needs of internally displaced people in Benue state, after more than 1,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes following episodes of extreme violence. 

Over the last six years, MSF collaborated with the Ministry of Health to ensure free access to a range of basic healthcare services for displaced people in Mbawa, Ortese, Naka and Agagbe camps and host communities. Between 1 May 2018 and 31 March 2024, MSF medical teams provided 412,832 consultations and treated 223,871 patients.      

In the summer of 2022, we began witnessing an increase of SGBV cases among the displaced community. This primarily afflicts women and girls. It is demonstrative of the acute vulnerabilities to which displaced people are exposed in Benue. In 2023, MSF admitted 1,731 people following instances of SGBV.      

We remain concerned for the safety of women and girls in Benue. We will continue to advocate for more action by the Nigerian government and the newly arrived international organisations present in the area, to recognise the threat that SGBV poses to displaced people and to provide survivors with the necessary care.  

The arrival of international organisations is a hopeful signal that MSF’s drive to recognise the plight of displaced people in Benue state is being heard. In late 2023, a new clinic, supported by UNICEF and WHO, began operating in three camps.   

MSF continues to provide free, quality health services to vulnerable communities in other areas of Nigeria where we are already present, such as in the states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Borno, Bauchi, Ebonyi and Cross River.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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