Nairobi/Amsterdam, January 28, 2008 - It is with great sadness that we confirm that three staff from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were killed this morning in the Somali town of Kismayo, not far from the hospital where MSF works.
The victims are a Kenyan doctor, a French logistician, and a Somali driver. Victor Okumu was a 51-year old surgeon who had previously worked with MSF in several missions such as Darfur, Sudan, and Sierra Leone; Damien Lehalle was a 27-year-old logistician in his second mission with MSF; Billan was the Somali driver of the car. Another member of the team was lightly wounded.
The bodies of the victims were transported to the Kismayo hospital and later taken by plane together with the rest of the international team to Nairobi. The rest of the staff is unharmed.
The exact circumstances of the dramatic incident are not yet clear, but for the moment our priority is to take care of those most affected by this tragedy, in particular the families of the victims.
We will miss Victor, Damien, and Billan greatly and again we extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families and friends.
MSF opened an emergency surgical project in Kismayo in September 2007, providing among others, emergency obstetrics surgery. MSF has worked continuously in Somalia for more than 16 years and is currently providing medical care in eleven regions in the country. There are some 60 MSF international staff and more than 800 national staff now working in Somalia, performing more than 300,000 outpatient consultations and admitting an estimated 10,000 patients every year.