Somalia: Six months after the abduction of Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra
April 17, 2012
The international medical organization; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has put on hold any opening of new non-emergency projects and/or the expansion of the existing ones in Somalia until the safe release of its two colleagues, Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra, abducted from the Dadaab refugee camps six months ago, on October 13 2011, and held against their will in Somalia. Still committed to the Somali population, MSF will continue to respond to life-saving emergencies. Nevertheless, MSF cannot operate with normalcy when two of its colleagues are kept captive in the country.
The last time Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut were seen publicly was in Lower Shabelle in December 2011. MSF condemns this abduction in the strongest of terms and demands that all actors, particularly authorities and community leaders in Somalia contribute actively to the safe release of Blanca and Montserrat. Their families and MSF reiterate that they do not want armed rescue attempts and strongly favor a safe release of our colleagues.
Blanca Thiebaut, 30, and Montserrat Serra, 40, were working in IFO 2 refugee camp in Dadaab (Kenya) when they were assaulted by armed men on October 13. Camps in Dadaab host more than 460.000 Somali refugees who fled their country because of hunger and war.
MSF has maintained a continuous presence in Somalia since 1991, and currently runs 13 projects countrywide. In 2011, MSF scaled up its operations to meet the high needs, running medical projects in up to 22 locations across South Central Somalia, attending to over 800,000 patients in Somalia, and providing life saving medical assistance to Somali refugees in the camps of Dadaab in Kenya and Dolo Ado in Ethiopia.