MSF seeks swift release of two abducted staff without use of force

October 19, 2011

MSF seeks swift release of two abducted staff without use of force © Brendan Bannon

Following the abduction of two MSF staff in Dadaab, Kenya, on 13 October, the international medical organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has no verifiable information on the identity or motives of the abductors. MSF firmly and clearly disassociates itself from any armed activities and related declarations launched following the abduction. MSF is actively and fully engaging with all relevant actors in order to seek a safe resolution of the abduction. Abductions are extremely complex and need to be handled with care, therefore MSF is very concerned that security and the resolution of the incident could be compromised by any use of force being related to the case.

“MSF is currently engaging with all relevant actors to seek the safe and swift release of our colleagues and any use of force could endanger this,” says Jose Antonio Bastos, President of MSF in Spain. “We want to strongly distance ourselves from any military or other armed activities, declarations or presumptions of responsibility related to this case.”

MSF continues to provide assistance to people affected by the current crisis in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, despite the already highly complex security environment. As a result of the attack, MSF has temporarily suspended activities in Ifo 2 camp, Dadaab, where the abduction took place. These activities include two health posts and mobile clinics that were providing primary healthcare, reproductive health and antenatal care, routine vaccination programs and referral services for secondary healthcare.

In Dagahaley camp, MSF has ensured the continuation of life-saving medical activities in the 243-bed hospital, with nearly 200 patients being treated in the in-patient therapeutic feeding centre. However, five health posts had to be momentarily suspended and medical teams are currently on stand-by, ready to resume all activities as soon as security conditions allow it. Part of the nutritional program, which was treating 15,000 people, was also put on hold.

MSF has been working in Somalia continuously since 1991 and currently operates 13 projects in the country, including medical activities related to the current emergency, vaccination and nutritional interventions. In running such programs, MSF maintains an ongoing dialogue with key actors on the ground. In Dadaab, Kenya, MSF resumed operations in 2009, while it also assists Somali refugees in the camps of Dolo Ado, Ethiopia.

“We are deeply concerned about the fate of our two colleagues. MSF is committed to continue providing healthcare to the Somali population in and outside Somalia,” says Bastos, “but the level of assistance to populations is being deeply impacted by such attacks. It is extremely alarming”.

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