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Somalia: Militiamen occupy Mogadishu's Keysaney hospital

29-05-2006 News Release 06/55

Geneva (ICRC) – Mogadishu's Keysaney hospital was taken by armed fighters today, despite repeated calls by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent Society for medical facilities to be spared. The hospital was clearly marked with the red crescent emblem.

This military operation further hampers the access of new casualties to the hospital. Keysaney hospital is the only medical facility in Mogadishu North offering surgical services for the war-wounded. The transfer of casualties to other medical facilities is hazardous in the current situation.

Medical services at the hospital have been reduced to a minimum. Most patients were hastily taken out of the hospital with the help of their relatives. Late this evening 59 patients remained in the hospital, attended by a handful of medical personnel.

International humanitarian law prohibits the use of a hospital for the conduct of hostilities. The protection of the sick and the wounded is also at the core of Biri ma Geido, the traditional Somali code of warfare.

The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent are deeply concerned about the fate of the patients and the medical staff of Keysaney and of all persons currently in need of medical attention. The ICRC calls for the withdrawal of fighters from the hospital as soon as possible. In the meantime, it is the responsibility of the fighting forces to facilitate the evacuation of patients to a suitable and safe medical facility. The hospital building and equipment must be protected from destruction and looting.

At this time of intense armed violence, the ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent once again urge the warring parties in the strongest terms to respect and protect medical personnel, medical facilities and vehicles being used t o transport the wounded and sick.

Keysaney hospital was opened by the ICRC in 1992 and handed over to the Somali Red Crescent Society in 1994. Over the past 15 years the hospital has provided the Somali population with inestimable services. Since the beginning of fighting last February, over 1,700 war-wounded people – representing only a fraction of the total casualties – have been treated in Mogadishu’s hospitals.

 

 Listen to  audio interview with ICRC head of delegation for Somalia Pascal Hundt (RealMedia format)

 For further information, please contact:  

 Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia/Nairobi, tel. +254 722 518 142  

 Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17