Somalia: Unacceptable Security Risks Leave Thousands Without Care in Mogadishu

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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Due to a rise in violence, MSF has been forced to cease medical activities in one of its clinics in the Wardigley/Hodan area of Mogadishu, Somalia.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been forced to cease medical activities in one of its clinics in the Wardigley/Hodan area of Mogadishu, Somalia. The clinic delivered essential health care services to children under 12 years old and expecting mothers, but increased fighting has led to unacceptable security risks for MSF patients and staff.

"The need to assist people is clear, yet to continue under the current circumstances is impossible."

“MSF continues to provide essential healthcare to the Somali people in Mogadishu and throughout central and southern Somalia as they face increasing levels of suffering,” said MSF Head of Emergency Team, Marcel Langenbach. “However, in the case of our clinic in the Wardigley/Hodan area of Mogadishu, we have sadly been forced to cease our activities. Despite huge medical needs, the rise in violence in the area has led to an unacceptable risk to our patients and dedicated staff.”

The closure comes following a further deterioration of the situation in the area where the clinic is located. “The fighting around the clinic has significantly increased; several mortars have landed very close by and recently, a rocket-propelled grenade actually entered the top floor of our building, but thankfully did not detonate,” said Langenbach.

Prior to closure, the clinic provided an average of 300 outpatient consultations a day and cared for around 35 inpatients on a regular basis. Between January and June 2008, MSF staff carried out 33,206 outpatient consultations, primarily for respiratory and urinary tract infections and acute watery diarrhea. More than 4,000 women received ante-natal consultations, and 637 people were admitted to the inpatient department. The numbers speak for themselves, and the need to assist people is clear, yet to continue under the current circumstances is impossible.

Despite this closure, MSF continues to deliver vital health care services in and around Mogadishu and throughout central and southern Somalia. Furthermore, MSF continues to seek new ways to deliver much needed medical aid to the people of Somalia—in spite of the rising insecurity. In order to do so, it is imperative that all parties continue to respect MSF’s neutrality and independence.

MSF has worked in Somalia for more than 17 years, and currently runs 11 projects in nine regions of south central Somalia.