Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says that weeks of negotiations with the Al Shabaab extremist group have failed, meaning the staff of the international medical aid group will not be able to provide assistance to several regions in southern Somalia.
MSF has been in talks with the militant group since April, when the extremists banned the organization from conducting emergency medical activities in the Burhakaba district in the Bay region of southern Somalia, where the drought-affected population needs nutritional support and clean water.
MSF’s planned emergency response included water trucking, nutrition screening for children under the age of 5, and food distribution for malnourished children.
Announcement of the failed discussions came as dozens of malnourished children have perished in parts of southern and central Somalia.
On Monday, at least seven toddlers under the age of 5 were reported to have died of malnutrition in southern Somalia as drought ravages the region.
“There are 10 more children right now suffering lack of nutrition as no aid organization is operating in the area,” 57-year-old Madnuris Ali told All Headline News in a translated telephone interview from Afgoye, a town about 20 miles south of Mogadishu.
“We are calling for Somali businessmen and generous people to act quickly to help us and these kids dying of malnutrition” he spelled out.
Children are the most vulnerable in the society, because they cannot bear hunger and thirst for long periods, the elderly man said.
The militant group has already banned more than 20 aid agencies from the areas under its control.
“Burhakaba district is highly populated, with estimated 125 000 people. At the moment, there is no other actor providing nutrition support to this population,” MSF noted .
MSF is an independent medical organization with projects in eight regions of Somalia. Over 1,500 Somali staff, supported by approximately 100 staff in Nairobi, provide primary health care, malnutrition treatment, health care and support to displaced people, surgery, and water and relief supply distributions in some locations.
MSF offers assistance to people based only on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, political or clan affiliation. It does not accept any government funding for its projects in Somalia. AHN