The medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced Monday that it has decided to withdraw all its services from Somalia’s Las Anod General Hospital in the Sool region due to increased volatility and repeated security incidents that have impacted the safe delivery of medical care.
It said repeated attacks on medical facilities and the level of extreme violence have reached a point where it is no longer able to provide medical care.
“The protection and safety of patients, their caretakers and health workers is no longer guaranteed”, MSF said in a statement.
Las Anod General Hospital was hit during fighting between forces of Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region and local clan-based militias in the latest incident this month, causing injuries among medical staff and caretakers and also damaging an ambulance and forcing the closure of the hospital’s maternity ward, according to MSF.
It was the fifth incident since the escalation of violence on Feb. 6 this year.
“We regret we are forced to stop our medical support, knowing that this will have an impact on people’s access to vital medical care – which has already been compromised by the ongoing conflict,” said Dana Krause, MSF country representative. “But we need to be able to work in an environment where the minimum standards of safety are ensured for patients and healthcare workers.”
MSF has been working at Las Anod General Hospital since May 2019, supplying the hospital with medical and technical expertise.
Fadumo Ali Hassan, a Las Anod resident, told Anadolu by phone Monday that MSF was providing live-saving medical assistance and its withdrawal is “leaving a lot of families affected by the violence and constant fighting in the town helpless.”
Reacting to the MSF statement on Twitter, a member of Somalia’s federal parliament, Mursal Khalif, said the move is “contrary to @MSF’s medical ethics, as well as principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.”
Las Anod has witnessed fierce fighting between Somaliland forces and clan militias that has killed hundreds, wounded thousands and displaced many families from their homes.
Fighting started in Las Anod, the administrative capital of Somaliland’s eastern Sool region, after local leaders, civil society groups and religious leaders announced that they would no longer recognize the Somaliland government.
The Somaliland administration has labelled the local forces “terrorists” and blamed them for the violence.
The Sool and Sanaag regions have been disputed territories, with both Somaliland and Puntland state claiming ownership.