Somalia: Emergency Service Continues Despite Violence


Somalia 2009 © MSF

Somali women and children await care at an MSF feeding programme in Galcayo, Somalia.

Nairobi, 19 January 2010 - As ongoing fighting in the Hiraan and Galgaduud regions of Somalia takes an ever greater toll on civilians, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has continued to support two hospitals in Guri El and Belet Weyne. In a recent three-day period, from January 10 to January 12, 111 wounded people were admitted for treatment, the majority of them suffering from multiple fractures, abdominal wounds, and chest injuries. On January 12, two MSF staff members were themselves injured when the Belet Weyne hospital was hit by a mortar.

Recent clashes have displaced thousands of people from Belet Weyne alone, highlighting the significant hardships the area’s inhabitants are facing. “More than 200 MSF staff are working around the clock in Guri El and Belet Weyne hospitals to provide medical care despite the danger,” says Head of Mission Andreas Papp. “On 12th January two of our colleagues were injured when a mortar exploded in the hospital compound in Belet Weyne. Fortunately they were not seriously hurt, but we once again want to remind the combatants in Somalia to respect health structures, patients and medical staff and ask them to allow MSF to bring in more desperately needed medical supplies by air and road.”

MSF is one of the only organizations providing free surgery and emergency medical care in Somalia. In accordance with its guiding principles, MSF treats anyone who needs emergency services, regardless of clan, political, military or religious affiliation. However, attacks on MSF facilities and threats to the safety of MSF staff severely hinder the organization’s ability to provide essential life-saving medical care to the Somali people.

MSF has worked in Somalia since 1991. More than 1,500 Somali staff members, supported by approximately 90 staff members in Nairobi, provide primary and emergency health care along with malnutrition treatment and more general support to displaced and injured people. MSF’s 120-bed hospital in Belet Weyne offers free, secondary-level health care to the region’s 280,000 inhabitants.

MSF also runs the 80-bed Istarlin hospital in Galgaduud, an outpatient facility in Dhusa Mareb, and a health post in Hinder. Additionally, MSF provides free medical care in eight regions: Banadir, Bay, Lower Juba, Middle Shabelle, Lower Shabelle and Mudug. In the first six months of 2009, MSF teams provided 376,114 outpatient consultations and 22,000 ante-natal care consultations; 3,373 surgeries were performed, 1,975 of which were for injuries caused by violence.

For more information contact Susan Sandars on + 254 (0) 722 513 981,