Persistent violence, displacement and hunger described in new report

In a report released today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) highlights violence, displacement and food shortages as significant and ongoing features of Somalia’s humanitarian landscape. The report, entitled “Hear my voice,” draws on a survey of more than 800 Somali patients attending MSF medical facilities in Somalia and in Ethiopian refugee camps, as well as quotes from personal testimonies from community members. What it describes is a consistent pattern of high vulnerability and needs related to basic survival such as food, healthcare and protection from violence. “As the Somalia government and the international community look to a brighter future in Somalia with a focus on stability and development, we cannot forget that many thousands of people are still exposed to extreme levels of violence and in need of emergency life-saving assistance,” says MSF operations manager Joe Belliveau.   Over half of the persons reported being displaced from their homes with approximately half of them stating violence and fear of attack, and another third stating food shortage, as the main reasons for displacement. “Lack of security, lack of food, lack of humanity, lack of freedom and family separation are the hardest things in life. I have been displaced more than 10 times in my life. My husband died in an attack, and two of my children died because I was not able to give them food,” says a 25-year-old woman from Juba in the report. The report emphasizes that humanitarian assistance must remain a priority in large parts of south central Somalia and that it must remain independent of any political agenda. MSF has worked continuously in Somalia since 1991, and does not receive any government or institutional funding for its Somalia programs. Despite a reduction in activities over the past two years related to insecurity and attacks on MSF staff, MSF continues to provide lifesaving medical care to hundreds of thousands of Somalis in 10 regions of the country, as well as in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia. On Oct. 13, 2011 two MSF workers, Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut, were abducted in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. MSF believes that its two colleagues are being held in Somalia and appeal for their unconditional release.