MSF withdraws from Somalia Aid Co-ordination Body

Press release: Nairobi, July 11, 2001 - The international medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today announced that it has withdrawn from the Somali Aid Coordination Body (SACB). MSF fears that continued coordination through the SACB will be in conflict with the organisation’s principle of neutrality and impartiality in conflict areas. According to the organisation, the Coordination Body’s mandate to "provide policy and operational co-ordination for rehabilitation and development activities" has led some SACB actors to be increasingly involved in peace-building efforts. However, with a view to recent political developments in Somalia, MSF sees peace-building activities by humanitarian organisations as a threat to the basic principle of neutrality and impartiality in providing assistance to people in need, which could limit the access to such a population. The organisation sees the trend within the SACB to - sometimes publicly - affirm and support peace-building through the support to Transitional National Government as a threat to the neutrality of humanitarian assistance, and understands is not the humanitarian agencies role to strengthen any administration. Over the last few months, MSF has tried to reverse this trend from within the SACB. However, this did not lead to satisfactory results. According to MSF, the needs of the Somali people should be the only criteria for such assistance. MSF would like to continue working in Somalia in a spirit of co-operation with other actors, with the aim of providing the best possible health care. In this spirit we shall continue to liaise with the technical health working groups (health co-ordination, cholera, nutrition, TB, kala azar, hospital, HIS) where direct return to the beneficiaries is felt. With intervals, MSF has been working and providing humanitarian assistance in several localities in Somalia over the last fifteen years. MSF participated in the SACB since its initiation.