MSF Refutes Donetsk Allegations, Including Espionage

The international health charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has refuted all the accusations, including espionage, cited as reasons for the withdrawal of the organization’s accreditation for working in east Ukraine’s Donetsk region, an MSF press officer told Sputnik on Monday.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik), Daria Chernyshova — MSF said on Friday that it received a written notification on October 19, in which the Donetsk authorities informed the organization that its accreditation in the self-proclaimed people’s republic had been withdrawn. MSF was not initially provided with a reason for the decision, it said.

In a statement on Sunday, quoted by a local news agency, the Donetsk health authority said that MSF had been accused of espionage and smuggling "psychotropic medications" into the war-hit region.

"We refute all the false accusations against us… we also refute espionage," Delphine Van Durme said.

She clarified that the organization denied the allegations made by the self-proclaimed DPR authorities in the media regarding its medical-humanitarian activities as they include "erroneous statements regarding mismanagement of pharmaceutical products such as psychotropic drugs and criticism of the organisation's mental health program."

The organization underlines that for the last 18 months, MSF has been working hard to provide free, life-saving medical care to people affected by the conflict on both sides of the front line.

"All MSF activities, including the transportation, storage and distribution of medicines and our mental health activities have at all times been carried out in cooperation and coordinated with the authorities in DPR, " the MSF press officer said.

At the same time, the MSF made a formal request to the authorities of the DPR to review their decision to withdraw an accreditation from the aid organization.

"MSF indeed asked the DPR authorities to reconsider their decision to withdraw the accreditation," Delphine Van Durme said.

MSF notes that the decision to cancel their accreditation and halt medical activities will deprive thousands of people of life-saving medical assistance.

"This decision will have life-threatening consequences for the patients MSF is now leaving behind," the organization stressed.

According to the MSF, since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014, it has donated medication and material to 170 medical facilities in the country. Since March 2015, the aid organization conducted over 85,000 medical consultations of local residents in coordination with local health care authorities.

The Donetsk News Agency said on Sunday that the regional agency, which oversaw the accreditation of health organizations, became suspicious of MSF after psychotropic drugs were found at the charity’s warehouses in the neighboring Luhansk region.

Donetsk authorities also accused the French-based aid group of gathering intelligence on the region’s defenses, as well as allegedly running psychological training programs for residents on the frontlines that, they said, were focused on "disorienting" people.