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Cablegate: Niger: Government Suspends Msf-France Operations

VZCZCXRO8526
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0739 2111045
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291045Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4452
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0707

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000739

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM SOCI FR NG
SUBJECT: NIGER: GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS MSF-FRANCE OPERATIONS

1. (U) The Nigerien Interior Ministry in a decree dated July
18 suspended the operations of Medecins Sans
Frontieres-France (MSF-F) in Niger.

2. (SBU) In a July 29 meeting with the DCM, the head of the
French chapter of MSF in Niger, Emmanuel Lavieuville,
explained that, contrary to press reports, the decree did not
specify either the national chapter of MSF suspended, or the
region where the suspension applies. Informally, however,
MSF-France understands that the decree applies only to it,
and not to the other MSF chapters operating in Niger.
Lavieuville explained that 98 percent of MSF-France's
activities are in the Maradi region, and the other 2 percent
are in Agadez. The Maradi program focuses on combating
malnutrition. It also works on health issues such as
meningitis, measles and malaria. The GON forced MSF-France
to suspend its Agadez program last fall after three MSF-F
vehicles were stolen in a short time frame, which the GON
considered "voluntary imprudence" on MSF-F's part.
Speculation at the time was that the GON believed that the
vehicles had been taken by the rebel group MNJ, with possible
MSF-F complicity. MSF-F resumed its Agadez operations about
three months ago.

3. (SBU) Lavieuville said that the GON did not give a reason
for the suspension, and MSF has not formally asked for one.
He noted that relations between MSF-F and the GON have been
strained since at least the 2005 food crises, as well as GON
suspicions that MSF-F sympathized with the MNJ. He
speculated that the event that may have triggered the
suspension was MSF-F's recent receipt of a large financial
contribution from an Emerite-based organization, which the
Ministry of Public Health may have thought should have gone
through it.

4. (SBU) After receipt of the Interior Ministry decree, MSF-F
immediately suspended its preventative activities in Maradi
and is shutting down its curative activities over 3-4 weeks.
On July 25 MSF-F requested a meeting for its President with
the Nigerien President and Prime Minister, through the
Nigerien Embassy in Paris.
ALLEN

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