UK & World News
Somalia: Medical Charity MSF Pulls Out
Medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has closed all its operations in Somalia because of increasing violence.
The agency has been working in the Horn of Africa troublespot for more than 22 years.
"The closure of our activities is a direct result of extreme attacks on our staff, in an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly support, tolerate, or condone the killing, assaulting, and abducting of humanitarian aid workers," MSF president Unni Karunakara told reporters.
"We are ending our programmes in Somalia because there is an increasing imbalance between the risks and compromises that our staff must make, and our ability to provide impartial care to the Somali people," Mr Karunakara said in the Kenyan capital.
"Respect for humanitarian principles, always fragile in conflict zones, no longer exists in Somalia today," he said.
"There have been dozens of attacks against people, against vehicles, hospitals... we've just reached our limit," he said, adding that 16 MSF staff have been killed in Somalia since 1991.
MSF has treated more than 300,000 people so far this year alone in Somalia, the charity revealed.
Its president explained that MSF's activities had been put under "unparalleled levels of risk", citing the killing of two staff in Mogadishu in December 2011 - and subsequent release of the gunman - as well as the kidnapping of two MSF workers from the Kenyan refugee camp Dadaab in October 2011.
The two kidnapped staff, Spanish women working as logisticians, were released last month after 21 months in captivity in Somalia.
But MSF said that wider attacks had forced it to make the "painful" decision to shut operations.
The pullout by an aid agency that has earned a reputation for working in the toughest of conditions is a major blow to the reputation of the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.
The news comes some three months after Britain hosted an international summit aimed at helping the country recover from two decades of civil war - shortly before the summit, Britain opened a new embassy in the capital, Mogadishu, giving the UK a diplomatic presence in the country for the first time since 1991.
Somalia's embattled government, selected in November in a UN-backed process, was hailed at the time by the international community as offering the best chance for peace in Somalia since the collapse of central government in 1991.