Somalia: MSF is Rapidly Scaling Up Activities in Mogadishu

MSF has sent medical teams and four charter planes carrying 55 tons of medical equipment, medicines and therapeutic food to respond the crisis affecting the Somali population.

Somalia 2011 © Feisal Omar

Two cargo planes are being offloaded at the Mogadishu airport.

This week, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent medical teams and four charter planes carrying 55 tons of medical equipment, medicines and therapeutic food to Mogadishu in response to the crisis in Somalia. In the past weeks, an estimated 100,000 people have fled from south and central Somalia to the capital to seek assistance. They are settling in numerous camps in and around Mogadishu, with little or no access to health care.

MSF has started measles vaccination campaigns in dozens of makeshift camps where thousands of people have gathered after fleeing the exceptional drought and the violence in other parts of the country. Almost 3,000 children were vaccinated so far. Of the nearly 1,000 children screened for malnutrition, more than half were malnourished.

“MSF is extremely worried about the situation of the displaced. The situation is critical. MSF has begun reinforcing its operations in Mogadishu and is assessing areas around the capital in order to adequately respond to this crisis,” said Dr. Unni Karunakara, International President of MSF.

Through a mobile clinic, MSF staff started to provide medical care to around 100 patients daily. The teams are also distributing of relief items, such as hygiene materials and plastic sheeting for temporary shelter.

For years MSF has been providing medical care in the capital, through health facilities in Daynile and Darkheley where more than 370 medical consultations were provided last week. To address the increasing medical needs, MSF will open inpatient therapeutic feeding centers, a measles treatment unit as well as a 50-bed cholera treatment center in Mogadishu in the coming days.

MSF has worked continuously in Somalia since 1991 and currently provides free medical care in eight regions. Over 1,400 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi, provide free primary healthcare, surgery, treatment for malnutrition, as well as support to displaced people through health care, water supply and relief items distributions in nine locations in south and central Somalia.

MSF is also providing medical care to Somali refugees in Kenya (Dagahaley and Ifo camps) and Ethiopia (Liben). In Dagahaley camp, MSF is the sole provider of medical care for the 130,000 people and currently treating 6,400 children for malnutrition. In Ifo, MSF provides medical care to the 25,000 refugees gathered on the outskirts of the camp. In Liben, MSF is providing medical care in the six camps where 119,000 refugees are gathered. Here, more than 10,000 children are enrolled in nutritional programs.