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MSF Withdraws Medical Support from Las Anod General Hospital due to Escalating Violence

MSF, Las Anod General Hospital, Somalia, violence, healthcare, medical care, humanitarian assistance

In response to the escalating violence and recurrent security incidents in Las Anod, MSF, an organisation known for its humanitarian medical support, has announced the withdrawal of its services from Las Anod General Hospital. The deteriorating safety conditions have hindered the delivery of vital medical care, leading to a regretful but necessary decision.

Escalation of Violence and Impact on Medical Facilities
The extreme level of violence in Las Anod has reached a critical threshold where MSF can no longer ensure the protection and safety of patients, healthcare workers, and caretakers. The hospital has been subjected to multiple attacks, with the latest incident on 8 July resulting in injuries among medical staff and caretakers. Tragically, an ambulance was damaged, and the hospital’s maternity ward had to be closed, further exacerbating the dire situation.

In April, Amnesty International urgently called for a thorough investigation into the devastating impact on civilians amid the ongoing conflict in Las Anod between Somaliland security forces and armed fighters linked to the Dhulbahante clan. Over 100 people had been killed, and 600 injured, including civilians, due to indiscriminate shelling of hospitals, schools, and mosques, resulting in tens of thousands of displacements, Amnesty stated.

Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, urged an immediate halt to indiscriminate attacks and the safeguarding of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law. Based on interviews with 37 individuals in Las Anod and data analysis, Amnesty International confirmed that rockets and mortars had caused casualties among civilians, including vulnerable groups.

The conflict also triggered a humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 154,000 to 203,000 people displaced, exacerbating food insecurity for 214,000 in the Sool region. Urgent access to humanitarian aid was – and still is – necessary to assist those affected.

MSF’s Contribution to Las Anod General Hospital
Since May 2019, MSF has been providing valuable support to Las Anod General Hospital, including medical supplies, technical expertise for the emergency room and operating theatre, financial aid for sexual and reproductive healthcare services, and the diagnosis and treatment of children suffering from acute malnutrition and other diseases. In 2022 alone, the medical teams conducted more than 7,200 emergency consultations and assisted over 2,000 births, highlighting the significance of their presence in the region.

Continued Commitment to Humanitarian Assistance
Although MSF’s support to Las Anod General Hospital is coming to an end, the organisation remains dedicated to providing basic and specialised healthcare activities in Kalabaydh, located approximately 40 kilometers south of Las Anod. This location has become a refuge for those displaced by the ongoing conflict, emphasizing the continued importance of MSF’s humanitarian efforts in the region.

With a four-decade history of responding to humanitarian health and malnutrition crises in Somali communities, MSF reaffirms its commitment to continue these efforts while upholding the principles of neutrality and impartiality. The organisation firmly believes in the right to humanitarian assistance and claims full and unhindered freedom to fulfill its critical functions.

MSF’s decision to withdraw from Las Anod General Hospital underscores the urgent need for safe access to medical care in conflict-ridden regions. The escalating violence has severely impacted the well-being of the community, highlighting the importance of upholding minimum safety standards to safeguard the lives of patients and healthcare workers. MSF’s continued presence in other regions demonstrates their unwavering dedication to providing essential healthcare services to those in need.