Somalia: Humanitarian aid must not be co-opted into stabilisation campaign
New York/Paris/Nairobi, 28 February 2013 – Efforts underway at the United Nations to integrate humanitarian assistance into the international military campaign against opponents of Somalia’s government will further threaten the safe delivery of independent and impartial aid to Somalis struggling to survive ongoing war, the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today.
The United Nations Security Council is currently deliberating the future structure of the UN’s mission in
“As many Somalis continue to struggle to obtain the basic necessities for survival, such as food, healthcare, and protection from violence, humanitarian assistance must remain a priority and it must remain completely independent of any political agenda,” said Jerome Oberreit, MSF Secretary General. “The humanitarian aid system must not be co-opted as an implementing partner of counter-insurgency or stabilisation efforts in
Ensuring the safety of patients and medical staff remains a major challenge. Aid must therefore remain independent and impartial so that humanitarian organisations can try to negotiate access to populations in need with all parties to the conflict and mitigate security risks as much as possible. Attempts to further politicise humanitarian aid will put patients and aid workers in even greater danger, MSF said.
“As we’ve seen previously in Somalia, and in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Angola, when military stabilisation or peacekeeping efforts integrate humanitarian aid as a tool to advance political and security objectives, aid actors, including health workers, are invariably delegitimised and prevented from reaching populations trapped in conflict,” said Oberreit. “In extreme cases, aid has even been denied to populations to serve political interests of stabilisation efforts. Humanitarian assistance must be driven purely by the actual needs of a population, and not predicated upon any other agenda.”
Large segments of the Somali population throughout the country require basic assistance, many in active conflict areas and in zones controlled by armed groups, such as in south-central
More than one hundred Somalis cross each day into
“I have been displaced more than 10 times in my life,” a 25-year-old woman from
MSF has already had to curtail its activities in
MSF has worked continuously in Somalia since 1991, and continues to provide lifesaving medical care to hundreds of thousands of Somalis in ten regions of the country, as well as in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. Over 1,400 staff, supported by approximately 100 people in Nairobi, provide a range of services, including free primary healthcare, malnutrition treatment, maternal health, surgery, response to epidemics like cholera or measles, immunisation campaigns, water and relief supplies. During the first half of 2012, MSF treated nearly 30,000 severely malnourished children and vaccinated 75,000 against infectious diseases. MSF teams also assisted in over 7,300 deliveries and provided close to half a million medical consultations within its health facilities.