March 1, 2023—Djoen Besselink, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) country representative for Somalia and Somaliland, gave the following statement today regarding fighting in and around Las Anod:
“Yesterday morning (February 28, 2023), the hospital we support in Las Anod was hit during indiscriminate fighting for a fourth time in three weeks. This time it caused partial damage to the structure and brought a stop to activities in the pediatrics ward and blood bank. Since the fighting started at the beginning of February, activities in almost all departments except the emergency room have been reduced due to security concerns, but now the needed blood supply is no longer available for the newly arrived wounded.
"The emergency room continues to receive an influx of wounded. MSF has been supporting the injured with urgent medical treatment and referral of those in a critical condition to other facilities.
"What we are witnessing today is a desperate situation where the human suffering of the violence is tremendous—displacing people from their homes and making them fear for their lives. Staff and colleagues tell me they are afraid to be in the hospital, they can only pray because they cannot protect themselves as there is hardly any safe place to hide and the structure is not protected against these indiscriminate attacks. This should not be the case; it is a hospital after all. I wonder about the patients and how they feel seeking help in a hospital that might not be safe to shelter them.
"Projectiles, bullets, and blasts continue to occur at this very moment despite our repeated calls for respect of the medical and humanitarian space of health facilities and for protection of patients and medical workers. MSF condemns this extreme level of violence and reiterates that medical facilities should be a safe haven for all.
"We are providing medical support on both sides of the conflict and engaging with all actors to ensure that we reach everyone affected by this violence and that they receive the medical assistance they need.
"MSF is committed to continue supporting the affected communities but we would need the safe space to be able to provide meaningful assistance and to guarantee the minimum standards of safety for our staff and patients.”
MSF is currently running medical programs in Somaliland, Puntland, Jubaland, Galmudug, and Southwest State, providing obstetric and pediatric care, inpatient and outpatient nutritional support, emergency services, and tuberculosis treatment. In addition, our teams run mobile clinics providing basic health care for internally displaced people and host communities.
Since the onset of the fighting on February 6, MSF has been supporting the stabilization, treatment, and referral of injured people in Las Anod, and has also scaled up its humanitarian response with support to Burao hospital in Togdheer region. MSF ensures that the provision of medical care reaches people in need on different sides of the conflict. We are also assessing ways of covering the most pressing humanitarian and medical needs of people displaced by the violence.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international nongovernmental medical and humanitarian organization that provides assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict. We do so irrespective of race, religion, creed or political convictions. MSF’s actions are guided by medical ethics and the principles of independence and impartiality.