Bahrain slams MSF claims
Manama, August 5, 2011
Bahrain has hit back at statements by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), saying police raided an office operated by the global aid organisation last week because it was illegal.
MSF has claimed it was open about its operations in Bahrain, but the Health Ministry denied any prior knowledge of the 'unlicensed' MSF office - which was being run in a residential apartment building and was reportedly treating injured protesters, a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper said.
The ministry also accused an MSF representative, Saeed Mahdi, of lying about a patient who was brought to the centre with serious injuries, it said.
'As MSF was aware, a licence was required to provide health services in Bahrain in the current normal circumstances,' the Health Ministry said in a statement.
'The existence of this unlicensed centre was not known to the relevant Bahraini authorities.'
MSF also claims Mahdi was detained for simply helping the patient and calling an ambulance, but the Health Ministry said this was simply not true.
'Mr Mahdi was charged with four criminal offences, including providing health services without a licence and providing false information to police and the Public Prosecutor,' it said.
The statement added Mahdi had confessed to running the unauthorised clinic, which only came to light when paramedics reported they had picked up the patient from 'a medical type facility'.
It also said police had obtained a legitimate warrant to search the premises before going in.
The Health Ministry stressed that Bahrain routinely welcomed international humanitarian organisations, but could not allow such groups or individuals to breach Bahraini law - especially when it came to providing medical care.
'The government of Bahrain has a duty to be vigilant in licensing those authorised to provide health services and likewise a duty to investigate those who do so without a licence,' it said. - TradeArabia News Service