GlobalPost Examines MSF’s Decision To Leave Somalia

GlobalPost examines Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) “decision to pull out of Somalia [last] week after 22 years of medical humanitarian work,” noting, “The international group … is withdrawing from the country in response to repeated violent attacks on staff members.” The news service writes, “It’s too soon to predict exactly how the move will affect children in Somalia, but the sheer volume of child-centered programs that MSF is shutting down leaves little doubt that they will suffer,” as MSF operated “the capital city’s only pediatric hospital.” GlobalPost continues, “In addition to providing mobile health care, the [non-governmental organization (NGO)] supported a maternity hospital in Jowhar and offered mother and child health care, including nutrition and vaccinations, in a number of clinics across the country.”

“‘We are certain that our withdrawal will lead to huge gaps in the places where we were working until today,’ said Dr. Unni Karunakara, MSF’s international president, during a press conference this week,” the news service notes, adding, “Research also suggests children bear the brunt of the burden when humanitarian aid providers flee.” GlobalPost continues, “Already, Somalia has the second highest child mortality rate in the world. Nearly 20 percent of children die before they reach the age of five.” The news service writes, “Somalia struggles to improve child health, in part, for the same reason MSF is leaving the country: conflict. … The country leans heavily on international NGOs to provide health care, but at the same time, foreign health workers often find themselves caught in the middle of the fight” (Stuart, 8/16).