Somalia catastrophe: Head of Mission description
26 June 2008
This is definitely an emergency situation. In fact, if you take a map of Somalia, you drop a pen, where it lands you will find an emergency. It is particularly acute in the areas around Mogadishu due to the high numbers of the population there. In the area where we are working there are approximately 250,000 people that have been displaced from Mogadishu during the past 12-14 months and the main reason for this displacement is the violence, the insecurity, in Mogadishu itself. The sheer volume of needs, the number of people coming to our facilities to receive treatment, it was just mind-blowing to see so many people in need coming to the projects. Two months ago we were looking after approximately 1,000 children per month and, during the last four weeks alone we have treated nearly two and a half thousand children in our program there - so a 150 percent increase. I have never seen a malnutrition problem on this scale anywhere else. And we are only talking about two and a half thousand children in just one of the projects. In many other parts of Somalia we are seeing similar increases in rates of malnutrition. Certainly in MSF we are trying to do as much as we can but throughout Somalia the problems in accessing the population for humanitarian organisations has meant that the needs are not being met. MSF itself has suffered serious attacks this year. We have lost four colleagues due to the violence and the violence is increasing on a daily basis. It is very very frustrating although it must be recognised that all of the MSF projects are continuing to function with the dedicated work of the national staff. But with this increase in needs the support that we are able to give them is very, very limited. So it is very, very frustrating at the moment.