NAIROBI/AMSTERDAM - It is with great sadness that we confirm that, this morning, three staff members from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) were killed in the Somali town of Kismayo, not far from the hospital where we work. The victims are a Kenyan doctor, a French logistician and a Somali driver. Victor Okumu, a 51-year old surgeon, had previously worked with MSF in several missions including Darfur and Sierra Leone; Damien Lehalle, a 27-year old logistician, was on his second mission with MSF; Billan was the Somali driver of the car. Another member of the team was slightly wounded. The bodies of the victims were transported to the Kismayo hospital and later taken by plane, together with the rest of the international team, to Nairobi. The rest of the staff is unharmed. The exact circumstances of this fatal incident are not yet clear, but for the moment our priority is to take care of those most affected by this tragedy, in particular the families of the victims. We will miss Victor, Damien and Billan greatly and again we extend our heartfelt sympathies to their families and friends.
MSF opened an emergency surgical project in Kismayo in September 2007, providing amongst other services, emergency obstetrics surgery. MSF has worked continuously in Somalia for more than 16 years and is currently providing medical care in 11 regions in the country. There are some 60 MSF international staff and more than 800 national staff now working in Somalia, performing more than 300,000 out-patient consultations and admitting an estimated 10,000 patients every year.