Iran Kicks Out Doctors Without Borders, Claims No Need for Coronavirus Aid

People walk by a traveling interactive exhibit organized by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) aimed to help people better understand the lives and challenges of some of the world's 65.3 million displaced individuals on September 23, 2016 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Islamic regime of Iran notified Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the global NGO dedicated to offering urgent medical care to countries in need, on Wednesday that it would withdraw approval of a shipment of medical aid to the country.

Iran is currently suffering the Middle East’s worst outbreak of Chinese coronavirus.

MSF, known by its French initials, published a statement declaring itself “deeply surprised” by Tehran’s choice not to accept two cargo planes full of medical supplies and a team of MSF doctors that had recently arrived in Isfahan, one of the nation’s cities most urgently in need of extra care.

“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expresses incomprehension following yesterday’s declarations by officials of the Iranian Ministry of Health stating that the approval for our intervention to manage severe COVID-19 cases in Isfahan, central Iran, has been rescinded,” MSF said in its statement. “Ministry of Health officials said that the country does not need additional treatment capacity for the management of severe cases.”

The organization noted the prodigious amount of aid that it had already sent to Iran over the weekend:

This announcement came after two cargo planes we chartered, containing all the material needed to build a 50-bed inflatable treatment unit, had already landed in Tehran on Sunday and Monday. A nine-person international team including two intensive care unit specialists, had already arrived in Isfahan where they were positively welcomed by the local health authorities. Preparation of the site had been finalised within the grounds of Amin Hospital.

“We are deeply surprised to learn that the approval for the deployment of our treatment unit has been revoked,” Michel Olivier Lacharité, manager of the MSF emergency programmes in Paris, said.

MSF emphasized that the aid was paid for by public charity and not any foreign government, an attempt to assuage anti-semitic Iranian officials that no Israeli money or other aid would cross into Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also insisted it would not take any humanitarian aid from the United States, accusing America of attempting to spread more coronavirus in the country through poison disguised as aid and employing an army of Jinn, supernatural creatures of Mideast lore, to destroy the Muslim peoples of the world.

“We are grateful for their help and their intention to aid our people, but we have over 10,000 hospital beds and 10,000 more post-hospital care beds, most of which are more than what we need right now; as such, a 48-bed hospital will not do much for us at the moment,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Tuesday, addressing MSF. Jahanpour added that it seemed that the charity received local approval from hospitals in need without the decision being made at the federal level.

“They did not have notified the Iranian Health Ministry beforehand, and apparently, the talks on the issue had taken place somewhere else and it was presented to us as a fait accompli,” Iran’s Fars News Agency quoted Jahanpour as saying.

Jahanpour also apologized on behalf of the Iranian regime.

It is not clear at press time what will happen to the MSF team already in place in Isfahan or the two cargo planes full of medical supplies.

Jahanpour’s statement did not elaborate on how, exactly, any level of Iranian government official approved the MSF aid deal without Tehran knowing. Iran’s Ambassador to Paris Bahram Qassemi had posted a message on Twitter appearing to celebrate the MSF cooperation, suggesting that diplomats were involved in the exchanged and believed they have Tehran’s approval to applaud it.

Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), claimed that President Hassan Rouhani had personally tasked senior cabinet members with inviting MSF into the country.

“However, the Governor General of Isfahan, also an employee of Rouhani, disclosed that it is the Health Minister who says Doctors Without Borders should leave Iran,” Radio Farda noted. “The chaos has once again given rise to the key question: Who is in charge in Iran?”

The news agency noted that Iran’s health minister cannot overrule an edict from Rouhani – only Khamenei, or the IRGC, can do so.

Radio Farda reported on Wednesday that evidence suggests the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a terrorist organization Khamenei has tasked with leading the Chinese coronavirus response, may have vetoed the aid shipment. The IRGC has no known medical expertise among its terrorist leaders, but have announced that its jihadists will develop a vaccine against the Chinese coronavirus. The IRGC has also begun fundraising initiatives claiming to use the money to fight the pandemic, despite being a jihadist organization.

Rouhani made public statements Wednesday reinforcing the idea that Iran does not need any foreign aid.

“Fortunately, we have no shortage of beds, doctors and nurses in the country and even in intensive care units in many cities and provinces, we have more room,” Rouhani said, according to Fars News. “Today, our people are in relatively good conditions for meeting their needs, and we have no shortage of beds, doctors and nurses.”

“In the field of treatment and screening, good work has been done in the country and today, we can identify and find out who needs more care and who needs to stay at home, who needs to be hospitalised and who should be in intensive care unit,” Rouhani insisted.

Iran claims to have documented 27,017 cases of Chinese coronavirus in the country and slightly over 2,000 deaths. The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), citing sources within Iran’s healthcare system, has documented over 10,000 deaths, five times the official number. Local officials throughout Iran have questioned official statistics as well, noting that adding up the tallies from different Iranian provinces yields a much larger number than Tehran’s national tally.

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