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MSF Says Medical Records Confiscated in Dinsor, Somalia

A medical aid group is calling on warring parties in Somalia to respect international law and guarantee the safety of medical facilities, patients and staff. Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, says it’s very concerned about an incident in Dinsor in Somalia’s Bay region, when some 200 medical files were confiscated.

Huub Verhagen is program manager for the group’s Somalia operations. From Geneva, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what happened in Dinsor.

“In Dinsor, this town was taken by the armed forces of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, supported by the Ethiopian troops. That happened three days ago on Tuesday. And two days ago, they entered our medical structure and they confiscated all the medical files of the patients that had been treated. As you can imagine, medical files are confidential material and we are very upset with this incident because it’s a clear breach of international humanitarian law,” he says.

He says that the files were not taken at gunpoint, but “our staff was under considerable pressure. And in the end, although they didn’t want to give them, they were basically forced to hand them over to the military authorities.”

Verhagen says it’s suspected the TGF and Ethiopian forces were looking for foreign fighters in Somalia, although they did not give a formal reason for taking the files. Doctors Without Borders has filed complaints with the TGF and Ethiopian authorities.