After nearly two months of operations in Medina, the medical humanitarian NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has suffered two consecutive grenade attacks on its compound in Wadajir district in less than a week. In the second incident, two guards present in the premises were slightly injured.
“MSF considers this a serious incident due to the direct attacks on MSF premises, which were aimed at causing heavy casualties and damages to MSF,” said Joachim Delville, Head of Mission for MSF. “As a result of this incident, all activities in Medina were immediately suspended for an indefinite period of time
MSF reaffirms its commitment towards Somali patients and local communities, but insists it will not continue operations at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of the security of MSF staff and patients.
“Following these incidents, we need to re-engage with local authorities and communities to re-evaluate if acceptable security conditions can still be guaranteed,” added Delville. “MSF calls upon all parties in Somalia to respect the lives of the civilian population and to ensure that humanitarian workers can safely access people in need”.
A particular concern is the fate of patients lacking alternatives to seek free medical care in the area, especially malnourished children.
“We currently have 414 children registered in our malnutrition programs, of which 59 (14%) are severely malnourished and therefore facing high risks of deterioration in the absence of appropriate nutritional care,” said Delville. Expansion plans to open up a second health facility in Wadajir district, aiming at opening a stabilization centre for malnourished children, will also have to be put on hold.
MSF had just recently opened a health facility in Dharkenley district, Medina area, offering its medical services to all, including host and displaced populations. In its first two months of activities, MSF has treated 3217 children, 60 per cent of whom are under five. Among them, 856 children were admitted to the nutrition programme.
MSF has worked continuously in Somalia since 1991 and currently provides free medical care in eight regions of south central Somalia. Over 1,300 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi, provide primary health care, malnutrition treatment, health care and support to displaced people, surgery, water and relief supply distributions. MSF does not accept any government funding for its projects in Somalia, all its funding comes from private donors.