The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières has said it is pulling out of Somalia after 22 years there because of attacks on its staff. The decision underscores the continued security risks despite military gains against Islamist insurgents and accompanying political progress.
In a scathing indictment of Somalia’s leaders, MSF said the decision is the result of “extreme attacks on its 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 has seen 16 staff members killed in Somalia since 1991, including two killed in 2011. MSF pointed to those two deaths and “the subsequent early release of the convicted killer” in contributing to its decision.
The group said the pullout will cut off hundreds of thousands of civilians from humanitarian aid.
“In choosing to kill, attack and abduct humanitarian aid workers, these armed groups, and the civilian authorities who tolerate their actions, have sealed the fate of countless lives in Somalia,” said Dr Unni Karunakara, MSF’s international president.