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FOREIGN AID FAILURE: Doctors Without Frontiers leaves Somalia

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Charity clearly has its limits. The international medical charity Doctors Without Frontiers, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF has begun closing all its humanitarian operations in Somalia due to attacks on its staff.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president gas reluctantly acknowledged that the charity's departure would cut off hundreds of thousands of Somalis from medical help. The withdrawal is seen as major blow to the government's effort to persuade Somalis and foreign donors that security is improving in spite of a stubborn Islamist insurgency.

"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," Karunakara told reporters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Somalia is vainly attempting to haul itself out of 20 years of conflict and to provide such necessary public services such as health and education.

As an example of the ongoing problem, two female Spanish aid workers employed by MSF were freed by their Somali kidnappers after almost two years in captivity last month.

The MSF shut down two major medical centers in the Somali capital, Mogadishu early last year after two members of the international staff were shot dead by a former colleague in the heart of the government-controlled city. Fourteen other MSF staff members have been killed since 1991 when civil war erupted in the country.

" . we have reached our limit." The MSF have always negotiated with armed groups and authorities on all sides and even resorted to hiring armed guards, something it does not do in any other country, Karunakara noted.

In the years following its civil war, Somalia still lacks a central government. In its absence, Somalia's residents reverted to local forms of conflict resolution, consisting of civil law, religious law and customary law. A few autonomous regions, including the Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug administrations, emerged in the north in the ensuing process of decentralization. Essentially, the nation is in a state of anarchy.

The situation there poses sticky questions in regards to foreign aid. Should the world send help to a nations that does not request it? Where does the funding for food and medicine go? Without a central government, it's not far off the mark to suppose that these funds are winding up in pockets - far, far away from those who desperately need it.

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