The Progressive


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For Immediate Release

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Somalia: Surge in Wounded and Displaced as Violence Increases in Mogadishu

MSF Teams Providing Assistance Amidst Difficult Security Conditions

Nairobi/Geneva/New York

The recent escalation in fighting in one of Mogadishu's most
populated residential areas has resulted in a surge of wounded
civilians and has once again displaced thousands of people. The
international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without
Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is treating some of the wounded
and is providing basic relief supplies to newly displaced people.

As of last week, MSF had treated more than 100 wounded people in the
Dayniile hospital, located on the outskirts of the capital. The
wounded, many of whom are women and children under 16 years-of-age, had
suffered head, abdomen, and chest injuries caused by mortar rounds or
bullets, with many of them requiring emergency surgery.

On the road from Mogadishu to Afgooye, where more than 250,000
displaced people are living in appalling conditions, MSF has seen the
arrival of at least 9,000 more people since last Wednesday. Teams are
trying to provide them with essential supplies including soap, plastic
sheeting, and blankets. However, these basic items will only meet
initial emergency needs. People are completely dependent on external
food aid to survive, but assistance is provided intermittently.
Families who just fled the violence in Mogadishu are met with a lack of
shelter, food, and health care.

The situation is appalling," said Kenneth Lavelle, MSF head of mission
based in Nairobi who is in daily contact with MSF field teams. Because
of the constant flow of people fleeing Mogadishu, the camps are getting
more and more crowded and already atrocious living conditions are
rapidly deteriorating. Families of five have less than a few square
meters to settle in, without proper shelter," he said.

MSF has been working in health centers in Hawa Abdi and Afgooye
since 2007 and has treated more than 1,000 children suffering from
acute malnutrition every month since April 2008. Working
conditions-primarily the lack of security for the population and for
aid workers-prevent any significant increase in this vital aid.

"Despite all of the insecurity, MSF has still been able to respond
thanks to our Somali colleagues, who are taking tremendous risks to
provide immediate assistance," said Lavelle. "Due to the security
situation, we are unable to meet any needs other than the immediate,
life-saving needs. This includes medical care, nutrition, and
sanitation. Our response is most certainly inadequate when taking into
account the gravity of the situation."

MSF staff in Dayniile hospital have treated 3,700 people
suffering from trauma injuries since the beginning of 2008. More than
half of these are women and children under 14, with half of the
patients treated for injuries sustained during fighting.

MSF has carried out 32,982 medical consultations and cared for
6,937 children suffering from acute malnutrition in its Hawa Abdi and
Afgooye health centers since April 2008.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF's work is based on the humanitarian principles of medical ethics and impartiality. The organization is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. MSF operates independently of any political, military, or religious agendas.