Somalia: Hijack of MSF-Rented Vehicle Ends in Tragic Death

In the early evening of Wednesday, June 24, 2009, a private vehicle rented by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was attacked in North Galcayo, Somalia as it returned from referring a patient from one MSF facility in the south of the city to another facility in the north.

A female caretaker accompanying the patient was shot and killed and the driver of the vehicle was injured. The third passenger, an MSF staff member, was unhurt. The driver has since received treatment and is in good condition. The car was taken by the attackers.

The attack is not considered to have been directed against MSF. However, it demonstrates an unacceptable level of violence that puts at risk MSF’s ability to provide health care for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country.

MSF began work in Somalia in 1991. Since January 2008, MSF’s projects throughout south and central Somalia have continued to operate thanks to the commitment, hard work, and courage of dedicated Somali staff, supported by a team based in Nairobi that visits whenever security allows.

MSF calls on all combatants to respect medical structures and activities so that people—irrespective of their political, religious, or military affiliations—can access much needed health care.

In 2008 alone, MSF teams performed 727,428 outpatient consultations, including 267,168 for children under five years of age. Over 55,000 women received antenatal care consultations and more than 24,000 people were admitted as inpatients to MSF-supported hospitals and health clinics. MSF teams performed 3,878 surgeries, 1,249 of which were injuries caused by violence. Medical teams treated 1,036 people suffering from the deadly neglected disease kala azar and more than 4,000 people were treated for malaria. More than 1,550 people began tuberculosis treatment. Nearly 35,000 people suffering from malnutrition were provided with food and medical care, and 82,174 vaccinations were carried out.