Somalia: war wounded in Mogadishu referral hospitals reach new peak

27-01-2011 News FootageRef. CR– F– 01078

The number of war-wounded treated at the two main referral hospitals in the Somali capital Mogadishu increased sharply last year.

  • TV news footage transmitted worldwide Thursday 27 January 2011 on:
    Eurovision News Service (ENS) at  12:45 GMT
  • Footage available from the ICRC Video Newsroom (, together with accompanying press release and dopesheet. Easy to preview and download.

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The number of war-wounded treated at the two main referral hospitals in the Somali capital Mogadishu increased sharply last year. More than 6000 such patients were admitted to Medina and Keysaney hospitals in 2010 compared to 5000 in 2009 and around 2800 in 2008. More than a third of the wounded (2300) were women and children, caught in the fierce fighting between the Transitional Federal Government forces, backed by the African Union, and armed groups such as Al-Shabab.

Both hospitals are supported by the ICRC, which pays for running costs such as salaries, fuel and maintenance work. Keysaney hospital is run by the Somali Red Crescent Society, while Medina is a community based hospital.

With only an occasional lull in the fighting, medical staff at the Medina hospital in south Mogadishu work around the clock. Last year they treated 3268 war-wounded, amongst them 875 women and 271 children. The seventy doctors and nurses tend the injured and sick at considerable personal risk. Armed guards patrol the hospital grounds, offering protection to the staff and director, Dr Mohamed Yusuf. Some have received death threats and Dr Yusuf has been the target of an assassination attempt.  

Dr Yusuf says the hospital has a strict policy of treating the war wounded and the sick whatever clan, political camp, religion or armed group they belong to.  

The war-wounded, caught in mortar or artillery fire or in landmine explosions, account for three quarters of all the patients at Medina hospital.

Thirty six year old Said Ali Jama and his family sought refuge in Bakara market in Mogadishu after fleeing fighting in their village south of the capital. But his shop in the market was destroyed and his son, 12 year old Aden Said Ali Jama was hit by a shell. For the past two months, Aden has been looked after, free of charge, by the medical staff at Medina hospital. But his father says there is little that can be done for him as he is paralysed from the neck down.

"Only his eyes and mouth are moving", he says as he washes Aden, "I can't expect much from him, but I can't leave him while he is still alive. He is my eldest and I could never replace him."

His father has sent his wife, who has just given birth and his other children back to the countryside. He says he can't provide for any of them and pleads for the outside world to help his son.

The hospital has 85 beds but as many as 300 patients can be admitted at any one time. In 2010 the total number of patients referred to Medina hospital for surgery was 4347. A quarter of them were non war-wounded, like this 10 month old baby who is suffering from asthma and thrombosis. His aunt tells Dr Yusuf that he hasn’t been eating. Despite the attention of the medical staff, the baby later dies.  

Dr Yusuf, who has been working at the hospital since 2002, sees no end to the suffering of the people of Mogadishu. He says that the parties to the conflict are as far apart as ever and far from finding a negotiated solution.

Deputy head of Operations for East Africa Benjamin Wahren says the impact on civilians, particularly woman and children caught in the crossfire is terrible and appeals to the warring parties to always distinguish between civilians and fighters, not to use indiscriminate methods of warfare and to respect and protect medical staff, hospitals and clinics at all times.  

Since the conflict broke out in 1991, up to a million people have lost their lives as a result of the violence, famine and disease.

The ICRC has been present on a permanent basis since 1992, providing emergency aid to those affected by armed conflict and natural disasters as well as restoring and improving the livelihoods of those made vulnerable by the humanitarian crisis.


00:00 – 00:22 Travelling shot of Mogadishu

00:22 – 00:25 Armed guard in Mogadishu

00:25 – 00:39 Shots in the grounds of Medina hospital, Mogadishu –  wheeling injured man   
                      into the operating theatre at night.

00:39 – 01:06 Dr Mohamed Yusuf, Director of Medina hospital, examining the injured man in theatre. (NB his head is bandaged;
                      a stray bullet went through his left ear and left eye).

01:06 – 01:32 Surgeons preparing to operate on him

01:32 – 01:52 Surgeon ITW (unnamed in English)
"This patient has multiple injuries, gunshot wounds. Basically the bullet went from the back and into the front. He has colon injury so we did this for him colostomy. He has all of his organs. The rest of them are ok".

01:52 – 02:03 Shots of patients in the corridor of Medina hospital

02:03 – 02:52 Nurses tending patients with light injuries from mortar explosions.

02:52 – 02:59 Dr Mohamed Yusuf in the hospital grounds

02:59 – 03:36 Dr Mohamed Yusuf on ward rounds, examining the war–wounded.

03:36 – 03:55 Dr Mohamed Yusuf, Director of Medina hospital, ITW (in English)
"You see the entry is here. The bullet has entered here. Actually he is not paralysed but most of the time patients like this one they get paralysed".

03:55 – 04:07 Dr Mohamed Yusuf, Director Medina hospital, ITW (in English)
"Every patient who come here we don’t ask where he is coming, what he does. We just treat him because we want to do it like that"

04:07 – 04:15 Said Ali Jama exercising his son's paralysed limbs

04:15 – 04:42 Said Ali Jama, father ITW (in Somali)
"Only his eyes and mouth are moving. His limbs are motionless. His faeces and urine just stream out of his body. I can't expect much from him. He is paralysed but I can't leave him while he is still alive. He is my eldest and I could never replace him".

04:42 – 04.49 Said Ali Jama moving his son's limbs

04:49 – 04:55 Close up of son Aden Ali Jama in bed

04: 55 – 05:19 Aden Ali Jama, paralysed boy ITW (in Somali)
"I was with other children in Bakara market when the shells hit me. I was paralysed and they brought me here. Since then I have been here."

05:19 – 05:25 Said Ali Jama moving son's arm

05:25 – 05:48 Said Ali Jama, father ITW (in Somali)
"I have other children, but I can't provide for them. I can't provide for him. He is just lying there. I am pleading for treatment for my son from the outside world.

05:48 – 05:54 Patients in a tent at the hospital

05:54 –   06:12 Patients walking in the grounds

06:12 – 06:39 Dr Mohamed Yusuf, Director Medina hospital, ITW (in English)
"We are engaged in helping people, treating mainly of course war surgery, but at the same time taking care of many other diseases that the community has and suffers so we are here to relieve these problems from them as much as we can."

06:39 – 07:13 Aunt and sick 10-month-old boy, who is suffering from asthma and thrombosis.

07:13 – 07:45 Dr Mohamed Yusuf, Director Medina hospital, ITW (in English)
"There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no solution on the horizon. Everyday the parties who are fighting they are getting distant and more distant and more distant. There is no hope that one day they come and sit together and do a good reconciliation to help the people to come back to their homes".

07:45 – 08:26 Dr Yusuf Mohamed on the right of screen putting on gown and operating

08:26 – 08:36 Dr Yusuf Mohamed ITW (in English)
"This is the bullet, taken out of him"

08:36 – 08: 42 Cutaway of blood supply

08:42 –   08:51 Reporters question to Dr Yusuf Mohamed who replies (in English)
"How many bullets like that do you extract every day?"  "A lot. We can not count. There are many."

08:51 – 09:08 Dr Mohamed Yusuf finishing operation

09:09 – 09:30 Benjamin Wahren, Deputy Head of Operations for East Africa ITW
            (in English).
"Last year in 2010 we actually had more weapon wounded patients treated in the two hospitals supported by the ICRC than in any of the previous years. There were over 6000 weapon–wounded treated in both Keysaney and Medina hospitals which are supported by ICRC in Mogadishu".

09:31 – 09:56 Benjamin Wahren, Deputy Head of Operations for East Africa ITW
            (in English).
"We are very concerned about the upsurge in fighting. It is having a serious impact on the civilian population in Mogadishu. The ICRC reminds all warring parties about their obligation to do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties when they are engaged in fighting and in addition to that their legal obligation to avoid any impact on medical facilities and medical staff anywhere where fighting is ongoing".

09:56  END

  • Copyright: ICRC Access All
  • Release year: December 2010
  • Production locations: Mogadishu (Somalia)
  • Running time: 9'56
  • Languages available: (Sound) English, Somali
  • Reference: CR– F– 01078