The international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says the government of Pakistan is forcing it to pull out of a violence-plagued northwestern tribal region after a 14-year presence.
In a statement published on September 14, MSF said the authorities have refused to issue it a “no objection certificate" (NoC), leaving it unable to provide medical services in the Kurram district of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
“Without a valid NoC, MSF cannot continue to provide medical services in Kurram Agency,” said the group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres.
“MSF is saddened by the decision from the authorities responsible for NGOs working in Kurram Agency,” said Catherine Moody, the MSF country representative in Pakistan.
“The closure brings to an end 14 years of MSF working with the FATA Health Services in Kurram Agency,” she added.
MSF has most recently been providing medical services in cooperation with the Sadda and Alizai hospitals in the region.
The group said it carried out 36,498 outpatient consultations in Sadda and 6,416 in Alizai last year.
MSF said the necessary measures to end its operation at the hospitals and elsewhere will be completed within a week.
The Kurram region near the Afghan border has been the scene of several deadly militant attacks against its Shi’ite population in recent years and has been the location of U.S. drone strikes on suspected extremists.
In June, two explosions at a crowded market in the Kurram city of Parachinar killed at least 70 people in an attack claimed by the Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
MSF said it continues to provide medical care in Bajaur Agency in FATA, as well in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces.