'In Somalia there is no freedom because guns point at us permanently'

PHOTO GALLERY: MSF volunteer Olivia Hill, on her year working in Somalia treating malnourished children.

Anab Mohamud Mohamed is a Somali pharmacist who has been working with the MSF projects in Somalia since 1997. In late June, and thanks to a special visa (Somalia is stateless and its citizens do not have valid passports to leave the country), she visited Barcelona for the MSF General Assembly where she shared her views about the Somalia situation:

You were born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, and have worked there all your life. Some people say that it is the most dangerous city in the world. What was your life in Mogadishu like before the war and what is it like now?

ALT Pep Bonet

"Things have changed a lot. Mogadishu was a beautiful, quiet town before the war. Somalis were respectful and kind. Now, everything is different. Life seems to have lost its value; we have become aggressive and do not care about anything. Somalis have been the first ones to neglect our country. Somali has fallen into oblivion among the rest of the world's countries."

How does the situation affect the daily life of the Somali people?

"We cannot plan, we have no freedom to choose… and all this because we live under an armed menace. With guns pointing at us permanently, it is impossible to talk or make decisions, we can only let ourselves be carried along by the situation."

You have been working with aid organisations for over ten years. What do you see as the major humanitarian needs in your country?

ALT Espen Rasmussen

"The main problem, in addition to violence, is the lack of public services. Nearly all existing structures in Somalia are private and, therefore, inaccessible to most of the population. MSF health centres in Mogadishu are among the few, if not the only, health facilities that are free of charge in the entire city and this is why they are so congested. People die from diseases such as malaria or malnutrition that could be cured easily if people had access to health."

What does your work with MSF consist of?

"I am the project pharmacist and assistant to the Medical Coordinator and am responsible for the pharmacy: I follow up drug consumption and prepare orders. I also collect data on mortality and epidemiological surveillance."

Last October the latest attempt was made to set up a government in Somalia, is there any hope that this can bring stability this time?

"We always keep our hopes up. But, frankly, we do not know what is going to happen from now on. I hope that everything goes well and that at last we have peace, but I don't know if it will be so."

MSF runs a primary health care clinic in Yaqshid in the north of Mogadishu. The centre carries out over 12,000 medical consultations every month.