Many humanitarian organizations in Somalia are back to full staff, now that the major fighting in Somalia has ended. One of those organizations is the medical aid group, Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF.
James Lorenz, a spokesperson for the group in Nairobi, talked to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about conditions in Somalia.
“The humanitarian situation in Somalia has always been extremely bad. After 15 years of basically having no central government, there are very, very sparse health facilities throughout the country. The infrastructure in terms of health has fallen apart completely in the country. So, I mean what we’re talking about now is if you want to get health treatment you’re relying on very few ngos that are able to work in the country. And very often people are walking for hundreds of kilometers just to access basic health care,” he says.
The health of many of the Somalis seen by Doctors Without Borders is poor. “We have mortality rates among children among the highest in the world. About one in four children die before the age of five and the life expectancy is 47 years of age for adults. It’s again among the lowest in the world,” says Lorenz.
The group was forced to withdraw its international staff from Somalia around December 23rd when the fighting between Ethiopian-backed Somali Transitional Federal Government forces and the Islamic Courts Union militias became heavy. Somali staff manned the clinics in the interim. Now, the medical group’s international staff is back on duty.
Now that Islamic Courts Union forces have been ousted, Lorenz says there’s a great deal of concern about whether the Transitional Federal Government can provide security and services in places like Mogadishu.