MSF staff caught in Somalia conflict

Three international MSF staff and two UN are reported alive together in a house in Mogadisciu North.
Nairobi, 27 March 2001 - Following a two hour shoot-out this morning, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has received confirmation that three MSF international staff (two Spanish and one French), one MSF national staff, two international UN staff, plus one Somali UNICEF staff have been taken to a house in Karaan, Mogadishu North. They are reported to be alive and have been told that they will be able to leave as soon as security improves. At this point in time, MSF is not considering this an abduction. MSF has had reports that no national staff have been hurt or wounded. The security situation in Mogadishu has deteriorated throughout the day, with a marked increase in shooting and roadblocks. MSF is very concerned about the security of its national and international staff and appeals to all parties involved in the fighting to not harm the humanitarian workers. At 08.00 am March 27, six UN officials from UNICEF, WHO and UNDP, came to the MSF compound to for a general meeting. At 09.00 they planned to leave with MSF to visit the MSF facilities at Forlanini in Mogadishu North. At 09.00 the MSF relief workers and six UN officials left the compound to start the visit, but were caught in a ambush by technicals and gunmen. The delegation turned back into the MSF compound, but two of the six UN officials got stuck outside. The MSF compound, with the seven international staff (three MSF and four UN) plus over 20 MSF Somali staff, remained under fire for about two hours before being completely looted. The three international MSF staff and two UN were then moved to the house in Karaan. MSF has no confirmation of the whereabouts of the remaining four UN workers. MSF is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization, which brings medical assistance to all people in need regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex or religion. MSF has been working in Somalia since the beginning of the civil war in 1991 - and in Mogadishu since 1992. Since the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in January, MSF has been treating an average of 35 patients per week in Mogadishu. Every year MSF treats about 80,000 people a year in the Yaqshid Health Centre. In Somalia, MSF continues to run programs in Giowhar, Aden Yabal, Huddur and Galkayo. MSF works in around 80 countries world-wide, over 20 of which are in conflict.