MSF Seeks Swift Release of Abducted Staff Without Use of Force

Medical Assistance to Somali Population Continues

Disassociating itself from armed activities and related declarations following the abduction, MSF is engaging with all relevant actors to seek a safe resolution.

OCTOBER 18, 2011 -- Following the abduction of two of its staff in Dadaab, Kenya, on October 13, the international medical organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has no verifiable information on the identity or motives of the abductors.

MSF firmly and clearly disassociates itself from any armed activities and related declarations following the abduction. MSF is fully engaging with all relevant actors in order to seek a safe resolution of the abduction. Abductions are extremely complex and need to be handled with care. MSF is therefore very concerned that security and the resolution of the incident could be compromised by any use of force related to the case.

“MSF is currently engaging with all relevant actors to seek the safe and swift release of our colleagues and any use of force could endanger this,” said Jose Antonio Bastos, president of MSF in Spain. “We want to strongly distance ourselves from any military or other armed activities, declarations, or presumptions of responsibility related to this case.”

MSF continues to provide assistance to people affected by the current crisis in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, despite the already highly complex security environment. As a result of the attack on October 13, MSF has temporarily suspended activities in the Ifo II camp in Dadaab, Kenya, where the abduction took place. Activities include two health posts and mobile clinics that were providing primary healthcare, reproductive and antenatal care, routine vaccination programs, and referral services for secondary healthcare.

In Dagahaley Camp in Dadaab, MSF has ensured the continuation of life-saving medical activities in its 243-bed hospital, with nearly 200 patients being treated in the inpatient therapeutic feeding center. However, five health posts had to be momentarily suspended and medical teams are currently on standby, ready to resume all activities as soon as security conditions allow. Part of the nutritional program, which was treating 15,000 people, was also put on hold.

MSF has been working in Somalia continuously since 1991 and currently operates 13 projects in the country, including medical activities related to the current emergency, vaccination campaigns, and nutritional interventions. In running such programs, MSF maintains an ongoing dialogue with key actors on the ground. In Dadaab, Kenya, MSF resumed operations in 2009, while it also assists Somali refugees in the camps of Dolo Ado, Ethiopia.

“We are deeply concerned about the fate of our two colleagues,” said Bastos. “MSF is committed to continue providing healthcare to the Somali population in and outside Somalia, but the level of assistance to populations is being deeply impacted by such attacks. It is extremely alarming.”