Somalia: MSF demands access to the area where the two MSF expatriates are still in captivity, in order to check their status

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More than 48 hours after their abduction, Mercedes Garcia and Pilar Bauza continue in captivity .

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) demands that an MSF medical vehicle have access to the area where the two workers are detained to assess their health status. Mercedes García and Pilar Bauza, a Spanish doctor and an Argentinian nurse, have been held for more than 48 hours in the area of  Bossaso, in Puntland, Somalia.

Once again, the organization reiterates its demand that both Mercedes and Pilar are freed and calls on all parties involved to continue with the negotiations to achieve a peaceful and immediate resolution, with no use of violence.

"Once again we request the kidnappers to respect the dignity and integrity of our expatriates", says Paula Farias, President of MSF- Spain. Farias remembered that "attacks on humanitarian workers make access to the most vulnerable people in the country even more difficult."

The organization has intensified the contacts with the national and international governments and institutions in order to reach a solution to the crisis and is at all times maintaining its coordination with the Spanish Ambassador in Nairobi (Kenya), who has been in Bossaso since yesterday (December 27) to mediate in the negotiation.

On Wednesday December 26 both expatriates from the organization were detained by force by a group of armed persons. Since the first moment, the international medical humanitarian organization MSF has demanded to all parties involved the immediate release of these two colleagues.

MSF informed the public as soon as the incident came to our attention on Wednesday, when two workers, travelling in an MSF car, were stopped. The workers were en route to one of the nutritional centres where MSF is assisting some 7,000 children under five who suffer from malnutrition. These children are among the estimated 25,000 internally displaced people living in 19 camps in the region.  

The remaining international staff who is working in our project in Bossaso have already been evacuated to Nairobi (Kenya) while yesterday, at midday, a support team from MSF - the Emergency Unit Coordinator, the Head of Mission for Somalia, and an MSF expert on Somalia - arrived to the area.

The MSF project in Bossaso started in May 2007. There are eight expatriates and some 100 local workers in the project.

Source: Médecins Sans Frontières