Somalia: Violence in Las Anod forces MSF to end activities 

Increased volatility and repeated security incidents have impacted the safe delivery of medical care, forcing MSF to withdraw services.

MSF staff member in surgical mask and white vest administers an injection to a baby held by its mother in Somalia.

Somalia 2022 © Dahir Abdullahi/MSF

NEW YORK, JULY 24, 2023—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reached the difficult decision to withdraw its services from Las Anod General Hospital in the Sool region within the internationally recognized borders of Somalia due to increased volatility and repeated security incidents that have impacted the safe delivery of medical care.

Recurrent attacks on medical facilities and the level of extreme violence in Las Anod have reached the threshold where MSF is no longer able to provide medical care. The protection and safety of patients, their caretakers, and health workers is no longer guaranteed, said MSF.

In the latest incident on July 8, Las Anod General Hospital was hit during the fighting, causing injuries among medical staff and caretakers. The fighting also damaged an ambulance and forced the closure of the hospital’s maternity ward. It was the fifth incident since the escalation of violence on February 6. Previous bouts of violence in Las Anod have also claimed the lives of health workers and volunteers supporting the medical response to the war-wounded.

“We regret we are forced to stop our medical support, knowing that this will have an impact on people’s access to vital medical care—which has already been compromised by the ongoing conflict,” said Dana Krause, MSF country representative. “But we need to be able to work in an environment where the minimum standards of safety are ensured for patients and health care workers.”

Since May 2019, MSF has supported Las Anod General Hospital with medical supplies and technical expertise for its emergency room and operating theater, as well as financial support for staff providing sexual and reproductive health care services and diagnosis and treatment of children with acute malnutrition and other diseases. In 2022 alone, MSF medical teams carried out more than 7,200 emergency consultations and assisted more than 2,000 births. This week, MSF is making the last donation of medical items to the facility, including kits to treat war-wounded patients.

While MSF support to medical services in Las Anod comes to an end, MSF will remain present in Sool region by maintaining basic and specialized health care activities in Kalabaydh, nearly 40 kilometers [approximately 25 miles] south of Las Anod. People who have been displaced by the current conflict have been seeking health care in Kalabaydh.

Over the past four decades, MSF has responded to recurring humanitarian health and malnutrition emergencies in Somali communities. MSF reiterates its commitment to continue doing so while observing neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance. MSF claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of its functions.

Las Anod city and Sool region are territories that are claimed by both Puntland and Somaliland, autonomous states located within the internationally recognized borders of Somalia. The description and place names used do not reflect any position by MSF on their legal status.