MSF Physician Doctor Ahmed Ilyas examining baby Saidya at MSF supported BRH in Baidoa, SW State, Somalia. Somalia, 2023. © Dahir Abdullahi/MSF © Dahir Abdullahi/MSF

Extreme violence in Las Anod forces MSF to close activities

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reached the difficult decision to withdraw our services from Las Anod General Hospital, Sool region, located within the internationally-recognized borders of Somalia,* due to increased volatility and repeated security incidents which have impacted the safe delivery of medical care.  

Recurrent attacks on medical facilities and the level of extreme violence in Las Anod have reached the threshold where MSF is no longer able to provide medical care. The protection and safety of patients, their caretakers, and health workers is no longer guaranteed.   

In the latest incident on 8 July, Las Anod General hospital was hit during the fighting, causing injuries among medical staff and caretakers. The fighting also damaged an ambulance and forced the closure of the hospital’s maternity ward. It was the fifth incident since the escalation of violence on 6 February this year. Previous bouts of violence in Las Anod have also claimed the lives of health workers and volunteers supporting the medical response to the war-wounded.  

“We regret we are forced to stop our medical support, knowing that this will have an impact on people’s access to vital medical care – which has already been compromised by the ongoing conflict,” says Dana Krause, MSF country representative. “But we need to be able to work in an environment where the minimum standards of safety are ensured for patients and healthcare workers.”  

Since May 2019, MSF has been supporting Las Anod General hospital with medical supplies and technical expertise for its emergency room and operating theatre, as well as financial support for staff providing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, and diagnosis and treatment of children for acute malnutrition and other diseases. In 2022 alone, medical teams carried out more than 7,200 emergency consultations and assisted over 2,000 births. This week, unfortunately, our teams are making the last donation of medical items, including kits to treat war-wounded patients.   

While our support to medical services in Las Anod comes to an end, we will remain present in Sool region by maintaining basic and specialised healthcare activities in Kalabaydh, nearly 40 kilometres south of Las Anod. This is where people who had been displaced by the current conflict have been seeking healthcare.   

Over the past four decades, MSF has responded to recurring humanitarian health and malnutrition emergencies in Somali communities. We reiterate our commitment to continue doing so while observing neutrality and impartiality in the name of universal medical ethics and the right to humanitarian assistance. MSF claims full and unhindered freedom in the exercise of our functions.   

*Las Anod city and Sool region are territories which are claimed by both Puntland and Somaliland, autonomous states located within the internationally-recognised borders of Somalia. The description and place names used do not reflect any position by MSF on their legal status.