Somalia: MSF Demands Access to the Area Where Two Expatriates Are Still in Captivity to Check Their Health Status

More Than 48 Hours After the Abduction, Mercedes García and Pilar Bauza Remain in Captivity

Bossaso, Somalia/Barcelona, December 28, 2007 - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) demands that a medical vehicle from the organization be given access to the area where its two workers are detained to assess their health status. Mercedes García and Pilar Bauza, a Spanish doctor and an Argentinian nurse, have been in captivity for more than 48 hours in the area of  Bossaso, in Puntland.

Once again, the organization reiterates its demand that both Mercedes and Pilar are freed and calls on all parties involved to continue with the negotiations to achieve a peaceful and immediate resolution, with no use of violence. “Once again we request the kidnappers to respect the dignity and integrity of our expatriates,” says Dr. Paula Farias, President of MSF in Spain. Farias stated that, “Attacks on humanitarian workers make access to the most vulnerable people in the country even more difficult.”

The organization has intensified contacts with national and international governments and institutions to reach a solution to the crisis and is maintaining at all times its coordination with the Spanish Ambassador in Nairobi, Kenya, who is in Bossaso since yesterday to mediate in the negotiation.

Last Wednesday, December 26, both expatriates from the organization were detained by force by a group of armed persons. Since the first moment, the international medical humanitarian organization MSF has demanded to all parties involved the immediate release of these two colleagues.

On Wednesday, the organization confirmed that the incident happened in the morning when the two workers were traveling in an MSF car to one of the nutritional centers where MSF-Spain is assisting some 7,000 children under five who suffer from malnutrition. These children are among the estimated 25,000 internally displaced people living in 19 camps in the region. 

The remaining international staff working in our project in Bossaso has already been evacuated to Nairobi, Kenya, while yesterday, at midday, a support team from MSF: the Emergency Unit Coordinator, the Head of Mission for Somalia, and an expert on Somalia from the organization, arrived in the area.

The MSF  project in Bossaso started in May 2007. There are eight international and some 100 local staff in the project.