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Doctors Without Borders Flee Somalia to Escape Terrorists

August 16th 2013

Al-Shabbab in Somalia

A group of physicians who provide emergency healthcare and medical treatment free of charge for the people of war-torn Somalia on Wednesday informed the world that they were fleeing the country by crossing the border into Kenya, according to officials from the non-governmental agency (NGO).

Officials from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, claimed that the threat of Islamist-perpetrated violence had become intolerable and the medical staff providing the starving and homeless population were fearful for their lives.

This latest setback comes in the wake of the Somali government's attempt to convince Somalis and foreign governments and businesses that they are being victorious against the Islamist group and al-Qaeda-affiliate, Al-Shabaab.

"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," said Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president.

Since the start of the Somali civil war in 1991 that forced the African nation's political leaders to go into self-exile in other African countries, 16 Doctors Without Borders members have been savagely murdered, yet the volunteer-physicians remained, according to MSF.

The doctors deployed in Somalia found themselves negotiating with terrorist groups and warlords and brought in an armed security force to protect them, something MSF doctors have never done in any other country.

"Within hours of the announcement, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants raided one MSF hospital in southern Somalia, forcing patients out before ransacking it," said officials at Doctors Without Borders.

“Ultimately, civilians in Somalia will pay the highest cost,” said Dr. Karunakara. “Much of the Somali population has never known the country without war or famine, and they already receive far less assistance than is needed. The armed groups’ targeting of humanitarian aid and civilians leaders’ tolerance of these abuses has effectively taken away what little access to medical care is available to the Somali people.”

"MSF's departure will deprive hundreds of thousands of Somalis of medical assistance," Karunakara acknowledged. "MSF treated about 300,000 Somalis in the first half of 2013."

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