MSF calls on combatants to respect medical facilities in Guri El, Somalia

An MSF statement.

This morning, fighting broke out around the town of Guri El, in the Galagaduud region of Somalia. At around 10:00am local time, three people were injured while in Guri El hospital. A mother, father and their child, who was a patient receiving treatment, were injured when an unknown projectile hit the hospital's emergency room. In addition, 13 injured people, including two children and five women, have arrived at the hospital. Three of them are in need of surgery.

In view of the increased tension in Galgaduud, the international medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has supported the Istarlin hospital in Guri El town since 2006, would like to remind all parties to the conflict in Somalia of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law. MSF calls on all combatants to respect medical facilities, their personnel and sick and wounded patients.

"Guri El hospital is the only medical facility that provides care in the area and receives patients from up to 250km away," explained Tom Quinn, who coordinates MSF programmes in Somalia. "With so few medical facilities available in Somalia, it is crucial that any person, regardless of their political or other affiliation, is able to freely access medical structures that are still functioning. MSF demands that the hospital's neutrality and, the neutrality of all its patients, is respected by all combatants."

As an independent humanitarian organisation, which adheres to the Geneva Conventions, MSF provides free medical care to any injured or sick persons with absolute impartiality and neutrality, regardless of their political, religious or military affiliation.

MSF is a non-governmental organisation which has been providing assistance in Somalia since 1991, and runs medical programmes in nine regions of the country.

MSF has worked in Guri El (Istarlin) hospital since 2006. In 2008, an average of 3,700 people a month received consultations and free medication in the hospital's outpatient department and an average of 330 people are hospitalised every month. MSF also runs two health posts in the area: one in Dhusa Mareb, the capital of Galgaduud, and one in Hinder, which opened in January 2008. An average of 1,600 consultations are provided in these two health posts each month.