Sunday, 28 September 2008

SOMALIA: Hospitals "swamped" as clashes continue

NAIROBI, 24 September 2008 (IRIN) - The main hospital in Mogadishu is overwhelmed by the number of injured people seeking treatment since fighting in the capital intensified, medical sources told IRIN. "We are receiving more injured people than we can reasonably handle; we are completely swamped," Abdi Mohamed Hangul, a doctor at Medina Hospital, said on 24 September. He said the numbers of people seeking treatment was growing daily. "Last night alone we had 30 people within an hour. I worked as a doctor throughout the civil war and I have to say this is one of the worst times for the population. It is a disaster," Hangul said. The hospital's beds, he added, were filled and people were being treated in the corridors or under trees. "We have more people outside than inside." He said the hospital had sufficient drugs to deal with the influx "but manpower is increasingly becoming a problem". Some of the staff had been unable to come to work due to the violence, while those who did make it had been working for over 48 hours with little or no rest, he said. Hospitals across the city also reported receiving a high number of wounded. Pedram Yazdi, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said: "For the time being, the capital's two hospitals [Keysaney and Medina] have enough medical supplies to cope with the influx of wounded, and we will re-supply them if more is needed." Another medical source told IRIN the death toll had risen to more than 100 with at least 300 wounded across the city since 22 September. "Last night [23 September] many more people were killed and injured in the fighting and shelling," the source added. A civil society activist, who declined to be named, said: "There are many more people than those in hospitals who are being cared for in their neighbourhoods; this is because there is no way to take them to hospital due to the insecurity on the roads."
We are receiving more injured people than we can reasonably handle; we are completely swamped A local journalist said the fighting was as intense on the night of 23 September as on 22 September, a day after the clashes began. However, Mogadishu was calm on 24 September after a night of intense shelling. "It has been very quiet since 1am local time," said the journalist, adding: "No one expects it to last." Since fighting between Ethiopian-backed Somali forces and insurgents began in early 2007, about one million Somalis have fled their homes. Some 8,000 civilians have been killed. The UN estimates that 3.2 million Somalis need assistance.

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