Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Médecins Sans Frontières vacates Bakool area of Somalia

A region of Somalia will no longer receive much needed health care from Médecins Sans Frontières. The health aid charity has decided that it is too unsafe to continue to provide services there. MSF operated the largest in-patient facility in the Bakool region of Somalia.

From the Médecins Sans Frontières website, we learn the reasons for the departure.

After nine years of providing health care for the population in Bakool region, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reached the regrettable conclusion that we do not have sufficient security to continue our work. This decision was MSF’s alone and we were not expelled by the authorities. Our medical activities elsewhere in Somalia continue.

Somalia is a very difficult place to provide humanitarian assistance as was underlined by the abduction of two MSF medical staff in Bakool in April 2009. MSF is grateful that the incident was resolved positively with the help of the community.

However, following the abduction and other serious incidents over the past year, MSF can no longer safely provide quality medical care to the people living in Bakool.

For the past months, MSF has run the project from a distance, complemented by short visits of international technical support staff. With the abduction, the possibility of even this approach has been eroded.

“Given the immense needs in Bakool and beyond we have continued to work under difficult circumstances, but unfortunately we now have to concede that the risks there have reached unacceptable levels,” said Jerome Oberreit, director of operations at MSF.

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