MSF forced to close a clinic due to heavy fighting in Mogadishu, Somalia

MSF wants to remind all parties to respect medical facilities.

A new surge in fighting in Somalia’s war torn capital, Mogadishu, has led to many casualties and forced thousands to flee. In the northern part of Mogadishu, the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been forced to close an outpatient clinic in Yaqshid to ensure its medical staff will not be caught in the crossfire. The local inhabitants have also fled the heavy fighting. As soon as there is minimum security, MSF will re-open this health facility to continue its medical activities. MSF medical teams have treated 112 for blast and gunshots wounds in Daynile Hospital, in the outskirts of the capital, in just a week since Friday May 8. There were 47 women, and children under the age of 14. "With so few medical facilities available in Somalia, it is crucial that people are able to access those that are still functioning," said Alfonso Laguna, MSF Head of Mission MSF in Somalia. While people had recently started returning to Mogadishu, thousands of families have left the city again looking for a safer environment. They have settled in camps in Daynile and along the road to Afgooye, a town 30 km to the south west of the capital. MSF has been working in these settlements since 2007, providing 15 million litres of water per year as well as additional relief items, but the organisation will need to rapidly scale up distributions to the new arrivals in Daynile and Hawa Abdi areas. Many displaced have left all their belongings at a critical period during the rainy season. Poor living conditions in the overcrowded settlements could become a significant health risk, leading to respiratory infections and epidemics. MSF would like to remind all parties in the conflict in Somalia to respect all medical facilities, their personnel and sick and wounded patients. MSF demands that all combatants respect neutrality of the medical structures during this current fighting and that MSF be allowed space to continue treating sick and wounded patients regardless of their political, religious or military affiliation. MSF also wants to recognize the dedication and determination of their Somali staff who are working to ensure that medical facilities stay open and accessible to all patients despite the insecurity, and at great personal risk.

MSF began working in Somalia in 1991. In Mogadishu, MSF is currently running medical facilities in the districts of Yaqshid, Abdul Aziz and Karaan, and in the proximities of Mogadishu at Daynile, Balcad, Jowhar and Hawa Abdi . In 2008, MSF teams in Somalia conducted more than 800,000 consultations, and performed more than 2,700 surgical procedures - 1,239 of which were for injuries caused by violence. MSF is the main provider of free health care throughout central and southern Somalia, providing primary health care, malnutrition treatment, and assistance to displaced people, surger;, water and relief supply distributions in nine regions. Due to the volatile security situation, MSF currently has no international staff permanently based in the country.