For Immediate Release

Wounded Treated, Civilians on the Run Following Fighting in Galgaduud Region of Somalia

NAIROBI - A new surge in fighting in the
Galgaduud region of central Somalia has led to many casualties and
forced thousands to flee. Following heavy fighting between two groups
last Sunday, Somali medical teams of the international medical
humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans
Frontières (MSF) have treated 46 casualties at Istarlin hospital in
Guri El. This brings the total of wounded treated there since fighting
broke out in the area more than two weeks ago to 86.

Between 45,000 to 60,000 people are reported to have fled the town
of Guri El and the regional capital Dhusa Mareb to seek refuge in rural
areas, but they are virtually cut off from much needed assistance.

"The situation has worsened by the day in this area of Galgaduud,"
said Tom Quinn, who coordinates MSF programs in Somalia. "Guri El has
become a ghost town, as has Dhusa Mareb. We have gone from about 200
children a week to almost no children in our consultation wards, which
is extremely worrying knowing how high the needs are. Tens of thousands
of women, children and elderly have run away, and are now facing
difficulties in accessing food, water and medical care."

Initial reports are alarming. MSF staff has been told that families
camp during the day under the shade of trees, and sleep out in the open
at night. The impact of the ongoing conflict on an area where food is
already scarce could lead to a disastrous situation, particularly when
combined with a lack of water and medical care. In more stable times,
the MSF-supported Istarlin hospital treats between 80 and 100 severely
malnourished children every month.

"Reaching the people who fled the violence and being able to deliver
aid is crucial, but it has become increasingly difficult in Galgaduud
region," said Quinn. "Both transport by air and road has been
restricted due to the dangerous situation in the area, which has
rendered supply of medical items and relief materials more difficult."

After days of negotiations, MSF is starting water trucking to both
the displaced people from Guri El and Dhusa Mareb. However, providing
hands-on medical care to those who fled to the bush is proving
difficult against the background of a constantly changing conflict.

Overcoming the difficulties in providing humanitarian relief is a
priority for MSF in the Galgaduud region, but also throughout the many
regions of Somalia where needs remain unacceptably high. While
international attention largely focuses on the problems of piracy on
Somalia's high seas, the suffering of millions of Somalis goes ignored.

MSF runs medical programs in nine regions of Southern and
Central Somalia.The organization has worked in Guri El (Istarlin)
hospital in Galgaduud region since 2006.
In 2008, an average of 3,700 people a month received consultations and
free medication in the hospital's outpatient department and an average
of 330 people were hospitalized every month. MSF also runs two health
posts in the area: one in Dhusa Mareb, the capital of Galgaduud, and
one in Hinder, which opened in January 2008. Last year, an average of
1,600 consultations were provided in these two health posts each month.



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