MSF expands activities in southern Somalia

The MSF team in Galkayo, Somalia, has extended its activities to the south of the city. Until recently the team had not worked there because the same clan that controls the south of Galkayo had killed a Somali MSF doctor in another city in 1997. The clan failed to take serious steps after the murder to bring the perpetrator to justice. Following some fruitless attempts to solve the matter, MSF decided to suspend its activities in the area controlled by the clan. By 2001, the clan leader presence had declined and MSF decided to re-start its work in south Galkayo. MSF decided the people must no longer have to pay the price for the crimes of their leaders. The needs in south Galkayo are greater than in the north. MSF has started providing the local hospital with systematic support and, so far, has been training the staff in general medical skills. An MSF exploratory team has visited the state of Lower Juba. The western bank of the River Juba is home to some 50,000 members of the Bantu and Ogaden clans who have never received (western) medical care. The Bantus were used as slave labour on the local sugar plantations. When these plantations were plundered at the start of the war in Somalia the slaves were left to their fate. There is a high incidence of malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, diarrhoea and malnutrition among the Juba communities. MSF will start an intervention on the west bank in the next few months. Safety on this bank is fairly good because there are very few roads. The fighting forces in Somalia prefer to move around in 'technicals', i.e. pick-up trucks with a machine gun positioned in the back. There is much more violence on the eastern bank, so any MSF team that is stationed there will probably has to treat war wounds.