Doctors Without Borders Withdraws from Somali Region Amid Heightened Insecurity: A Bewildering and Startling Move
On Tuesday July 25, 2023, amidst a state of utter confusion and unexpected chaos, the renowned medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) shocking declared its decision to withdraw all of its invaluable services from the Las Anod General Hospital in the treacherous Sool region of Somalia. The reason behind this unprecedented move lies in the alarming increase in volatility and the repeated occurrences of security incidents, which have greatly jeopardized the safe delivery of essential medical care.
With an air of disbelief, MSF further revealed that the incessant attacks on medical facilities and the level of extreme violence have reached an unparalleled pinnacle, rendering them gravely incapacitated in their ability to provide even the most basic medical assistance. In their official statement, they somberly admitted that the protection and safety of patients, caretakers, and health workers are no longer guaranteed in such a grim environment.
Truly disheartening news emerged detailing the recent assault on Las Anod General Hospital, orchestrated by the forces of Somalia’s breakaway Northern Somalia region and local clan-based militias. This particular incident resulted in injuries sustained by the valiant medical staff and caretakers, leaving an ambulance extensively damaged and leading to the enforced closure of the hospital’s maternity ward. The deeply concerned MSF took this as the final straw, as it marked the fifth occurrence since the alarming escalation of violence on February 6 earlier this year.
Reflecting on the dire consequences of their withdrawal, Dana Krause, MSF country representative, expressed deep regret over the unfortunate necessity to terminate their desperately needed medical support. She shared her distressing realization that this decision will inevitably hinder people’s access to vital medical care, which has already been severely compromised by the ongoing conflict. Yet, she emphasized their fundamental need to operate within an environment where the bare minimum safety standards can be unequivocally guaranteed for both patients and healthcare workers.
Since May 2019, MSF has been valiantly operating within the grounds of Las Anod General Hospital, tirelessly providing the medical and technical expertise crucial for its survival. However, the abrupt withdrawal has left the residents of Las Anod feeling helpless and vulnerable, as MSF’s life-saving medical assistance has vanished in an instant.
Vocal criticism towards MSF’s shocking decision flooded social media platforms, with Fadumo Ali Hassan, a distressed Las Anod resident, conveying her dismay through a heartbreaking phone call. She expressed concern for the countless families deeply affected by the unrelenting violence and constant fighting, as they now find themselves bereft of the indispensable support MSF previously provided.
In response to MSF’s announcement, Mursal Khalif, a member of Somalia’s federal parliament, took to Twitter to voice his strong disapproval. He claimed that this move by MSF directly contradicts the organization’s own medical ethics, as well as the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.
The once peaceful streets of Las Anod have become a theater of intense warfare, with hundreds losing their lives, thousands suffering severe injuries, and countless families being forcibly displaced from their homes. The violent outbreak that initiated in the administrative capital of Northern Somalia’s eastern Sool region can be traced back to the firm declaration made by local leaders, civil society groups, and religious leaders who firmly asserted their refusal to recognize the Northern Somalia government any further.
In a desperate attempt to create order amidst the chaos, the Northern Somalia administration has branded the local forces as “terrorists” and assigned them complete responsibility for the ongoing violence. Furthermore, the Sool and Sanaag regions have become disputed territories, with both Northern Somalia and Puntland state laying claim to them, further intensifying the conflict and adding fuel to the already raging fire.