Friday, May 15, 2009

Heavy fighting returns to Mogadishu, Somalia

Heavy fighting has returned to the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. It's resulted in a trying back and forth for the city's residents, many return when fighting subsides, the flee when it picks up again.

The return of violence has caused Médecins Sans Frontières to close their medical clinic to protect it's personnel. MSF is the main provider of free health care in the area, and treated over 1200 victims of the violence last year.

From the Médecins Sans Frontières website, we read more about the closing of the clinic, and MSF's call for an end to the fighting.

MSF medical teams have treated 112 people for blast and gunshots wounds in Daynile Hospital, in the outskirts of the capital, in just a week since Friday 8 May. 47 of them were 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,” says Alfonso Laguna, MSF Head of Mission in Somalia.

Recently people had started returning to Mogadishu, but thousands of families have now left the city again looking for a safer environment. They have settled in camps in Daynile and along the road to Afgooye, a town 30km south west of the capital. MSF has been working in these settlements since 2007, providing fifteen millions litres of water per year and relief items. The organisation will need to rapidly scale up distributions to meet the needs of the new arrivals in Daynile and Hawa Abdi areas.

It is currently the rainy season, and many displaced people have no belongings with them at this critical period. 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 to the conflict in Somalia to respect all medical facilities, their personnel and sick and wounded patients.

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