MSF condemns the killing of a wounded patient in one of its health structures in Somalia

Nairobi, October 24th, 2002 - The international aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) condemns the attack that took place last Saturday (Oct 19) in one of its clinics in Aden Yabal, Middle Shabelle region, in Somalia. In this attack 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 militia men. They were admitted to the emergency room of the MSF-run clinic. On Saturday morning armed men entered the compound and opened fire at these patients and their visitors. As a consequence, one of the patients was killed and the two others were further injured serioulsy. One of the visitors was also injured. MSF had to evacuate the victims and decided to suspend its activities in the area. MSF considers this incident to be an extremely serious violation of fundamental principles of international law: international humanitarian law specifically protects medical services and directs that they must be respected and protected at all times and should not be the object of attacks. Moreover, according to international humanitarian law, it is prohibited to attack wounded and sick people. This particular case this 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 (around 43,000 people). Activities include vaccinations, epidemiological surveillance and rapid response to highly-infectuous diseases. MSF has been working in Somalia for 16 years. The organization always provides medical emergency care to people in need, without making distinctions between them for reasons other than medical ones.