PRETORIA, August 14 (Itar-Tass) - After working continuously in Somalia since 1991, the international medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) announced the closure of all its programmes in Somalia on Wednesday, August 14.
The organisation said in a statement released in Nairobi that the decision was “the result of extreme attacks on its staff in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate, or condone the killing, assaulting, and abducting of humanitarian aid workers.”
The exceptional humanitarian needs in the country have “pushed the organisation and its staff to tolerate unparalleled levels of risk—much of it borne by MSF’s Somali colleagues—and to accept serious compromises to its operational principles of independence and impartiality,” the statement said.
The organisation said the most recent incidents included the brutal killing of two MSF staff in Mogadishu in December 2011 and the subsequent early release of the convicted killer, and the violent abduction of two staff in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya that ended only last month after a 21-month captivity in south central Somalia.
This was the last drop that made MSF terminate its operations in the country. “We are ending our programs in Somalia because the situation in the country has created an untenable imbalance between the risks and compromises our staff must make, and our ability to provide assistance to the Somali people,” Unni Karunakara, MSF’s international president, said.
“Ultimately, civilians in Somalia will pay the highest cost,” Karunakara said. “Much of the Somali population has never known the country without war or famine, and they already receive far less assistance than is needed. The armed groups’ targeting of humanitarian aid and civilians leaders’ tolerance of these abuses has effectively taken away what little access to medical care is available to the Somali people.”
In 2012 alone, MSF teams provided more than 624,000 medical consultations, admitted 41,100 patients to hospitals, cared for 30,090 malnourished children, vaccinated 58,620 people, and delivered 7,300 babies.