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MSF Pulls Out Of Somalia After 22 Years Due To Attacks On Staff

“Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is pulling out of Somalia after 22 years because of attacks on its staff, cutting off hundreds of thousands of people from vital treatment,” The Guardian reports. “MSF — also known as Doctors Without Borders — said its hand was forced by ‘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 newspaper writes, adding, “The aid group, which has 1,500 people working in the horn of Africa country, described it as ‘one of the hardest decisions MSF has had to make in its history’” (Smith, 8/14). “Sixteen MSF staff members have been killed in Somalia since 1991 when civil war erupted, but the charity stayed on, negotiating with militant groups and resorting to hiring armed guards, something it does not do in any other country,” Reuters notes, adding, “The pullout came a month after two female Spanish MSF workers were freed by their Somali kidnappers after almost two years in captivity” (Jorgic/Ahmed, 8/14).

“The situation on the ground was so extreme that the organization decided to just pack up and go, without a transition process,” Devex writes, noting, “That means that practically overnight, patients will no longer be able to receive pediatric intensive care in Mogadishu or any type of medical attention in most suburbs and towns around the country. The closure will also put an end to free primary health care, malnutrition treatment, maternal health, surgery, epidemic response, immunization campaigns, water and relief supplies” (Ravelo, 8/14). “Last year in Somalia, the group provided outpatient treatment to 624,200 people, admitted an additional 41,100 to hospitals and performed 2,750 surgeries,” according to the New York Times, which adds, “The Somali government will discuss the departure of Doctors Without Borders in a cabinet meeting on Thursday, a spokesman said, but declined to comment otherwise” (Kulish, 8/14).