Monday, 10 January 2011

MSF calls for medical staff's freedom of movement to be respected

GENEVA/NAIROBI. (Sh. M. Network) – On 5 January 2011, PRESS RELEASE, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supervisors at Dinsor hospital, in Somalia, were prevented from leaving the town by representatives of Al Shabaab. The MSF supervisors were due to attend a technical medical training workshop in Nairobi. As of today, the situation is unsolved.

MSF is extremely concerned about the present situation. Since 2002, MSF’s medical staff have been providing free medical care in the only functional hospital in Bay region. For its programs in Somalia, MSF relies solely on private donations from the general public around the world to carry out its work. Its funds are strictly dedicated to running health activities.

Despite many repeated requests addressed to the authorities, Al Shaabab has not allowed the presence of international staff of Medecins Sans Frontieres to provide direct technical support to the hospital for several months, which compromises the quality of the care provided to the population and questions the continuation of MSF support to the hospital.

“MSF urges all parties in Somalia to respect and protect all health structures and medical staff. And in particular, in those areas like Dinsor were the health structures are scarce.

The authorities should grant all available help for the performance of their duties. The freedom of movement of all medical humanitarian staff, international and Somali, is essential to exercise their functions.” says Monica Rull, MSF Program manager.

MSF calls upon the authorities to stop hindering medical humanitarian efforts. To secure lifesaving assistance, MSF remains committed to engage with the authorities to establish a meaningful medical access to the civilian populations caught up in the conflict in Somalia.

Despite the challenges, MSF remains the main provider of free medical services in all of central and southern Somalia. In Dinsor, MSF runs a 65-bed facility which offers both inpatient and outpatient care.

The inpatient department (IPD), which serves the population of the entire district’s approximately 110,000 people, provides paediatric and adult medical care, treatment for tuberculosis and kala azar; as well as therapeutic feeding for severely malnourished children with associated pathologies.

The outpatient department (OPD) provides curative and preventive care and it includes an ambulatory feeding centre for severely malnourished children without medical complications.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) works in ten regions of Somalia, with more than 1,300 Somali staff providing medical care on the ground. Millions of people urgently require healthcare, yet the enormous gap between the needs of Somalis and the humanitarian response continues to widen.

UN calls for humanitarian access as drought hits Somalia

NAIROBI (Sh. M. Network) – The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr.Mark Bowden, has expressed concern about the unfolding drought situation in Somalia and has called for humanitarian access to the most affected areas.

The 2010 short rains (Deyr season – October to December) failed in most parts of Somalia. Since Somalia ishighly rainfall dependent, a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation is expected in the comingmonths. Two million people already depend on humanitarian emergency assistance and with the current dry season, the number is likely to increase.

Mr. Bowden described the task facing the humanitarian community as enormous given current access constraints in many parts of south central Somalia.

'I am deeply concerned about the current drought situation in Somalia. Somalia is already in the grips of a chronic catastrophe, the prediction we made late last year about the below-normal rainfalls due La Niña weather conditions is now a reality. We need to act fast to put in place the mitigation measures that will help us to avert a possible disaster,' said Mr. Bowden.

The impact of the failed Deyr season is already evident. Water supplies have dwindled, cereal prices have increased, and livestock deaths are being reported in some areas. Malnutrition rates in south Somalia are already increasing. A recent survey in Juba indicates rates of 30% acute malnutrition which is double the threshold used to release emergency assistance. Although the drought situation has affected the majority of the country, some regions have been in crisis for the past three years. These include Hiraan, Sanaag,

Galgaduud, Mudug and Bakool regions while others such as Sool, Gedo and Juba regions are now emerging as areas of concern.

The priority sectors identified for immediate interventions are Livestock, Agriculture, Nutrition and Water/Sanitation. The Food Assistance sector is ready to scale up distributions but will face a pipeline break in food supplies in late March 2011.

'Initially US$4.5 million has been earmarked from the UN Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) for emergency drought response in most regions affected by the devastating dry spell,' said Mr Bowden.

Humanitarian access to Somalia’s most vulnerable populations remains critical, particularly to those in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection in the south central part of the country. Mr. Bowden urged all parties to Somalia’s conflicts to grant access to vulnerable communities.

'The increasing threat of hunger and disease caused by the drought calls for a collective effort by all parties in Somalia to increase and facilitate access for a broader range of humanitarian actions. I call upon all those who are in a position to improve access to lend their support at this critical time,' he said.

Source: Kuna News Agency

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Refugees turn to State for help

Daily Nation
December 27 2010

Refugees at Dadaab Camp have appealed to the government to improve their living conditions.

They accused the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of ignoring its mandate to provide basic amenities that will allow them lead decent lives.

The camp, designed to house 90,000 refugees, now holds over 300,000 families.

This has resulted in poor sanitation and put pressure on the waste disposal system.

People are forced to use ‘flying toilets’ at night, exposing them to the risk of cholera outbreak.

Chairman of the Dadaab Minority Camp, Mr Mohammed Abdi Odhowa, said the UN agency only provides them with food stamps.

Mr Mohammed said despite forwarding their grievances to the field officers, hundreds of families spend the days in the scorching sun and the nights in the cold for lack of shelter.

“Why do they have to take in more refugees when the existing masses are living like animals in the open air?” posed Mr Odhowa.

He appealed to the government to supply them with tents, mosquito nets and water.

At least 800 foreigners, mostly from Somalia, are registered every month at the Ifo, Dagahley and Hagardere refugee camps under the central supervision of UNHCR officers in Dadaab.

The refugees are fleeing the 21-year civil war that has claimed more than 400,000 lives and displaced over a million people.

Mr Odhowa said minorities like the Somali Bantu are discriminated against during distribution of food and other services — which are controlled by the ethnic Somalis.

“The Kenyan IDPs are treated equally in all fronts, what will you make of your life when you are discriminated against by your own community every day while you are grappling with cold, disease and all forms of neglect by the UNHCR?” he asked.

Confirming the housing crisis at the camps, UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera told the Nation they were building new camps and the refugees will be relocated next year to ease congestion.

“New Ifo (II) camp is a measure to offset the overpopulation we’ve experienced in the set up, even so, we provide make shift tents but the population is really overwhelming,” said Mr Nyabera.

Source: Daily Nation

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