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MSF Condemns Killing of Patient During Attack on Clinic in Somalia

Nairobi, October 24th, 2002 - The international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) condemns the October 19 attack on one of its clinics in Aden Yabal, in Somalia's Middle Shabelle region. One person was killed and three others seriously injured. MSF staff evacuated the injured patients to Jowhar hospital for further treatment.

The patients had been brought to the MSF clinic after they were involved in an armed confrontation with rival militiamen. They were admitted to the emergency room of the MSF-run clinic. On Saturday morning, October 19, armed men entered the compound and opened fire on patients and their visitors. As a consequence, one patient was killed and two others and a visitor were seriously injured. MSF had to evacuate the victims and decided to suspend its activities in the area.

MSF considers the incident to be an extremely serious violation of fundamental principles of international law. Such law specifically protects medical services, demanding that medical personnel and structures be respected at all times and never the object of attacks.

Moreover, international humanitarian law prohibits attacks on the wounded and sick. This particular case is aggravated by the fact that it occurred inside a medical structure of a neutral and impartial organization that is entitled to special protection.

MSF provides basic healthcare and medication in the Aden Yabal community, serving close to 43,000 people. Activities include vaccinations, epidemiological surveillance and rapid response to highly infectious diseases.

MSF has been working in Somalia for 16 years, and always provides medical emergency care to people in need, without regard for any distinctions other than medical ones.