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Somalia: twenty years of war surgery at Mogadishu's Keysaney Hospital
Reuters AlertNet
Friday, June 08, 2012
 
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ICRC delegate Fatuma Abdisalam Abdulahi reports from Keysaney Hospital on the needs of weapon-wounded patients and how the new operating theatre is improving treatment for tens of thousands of people.

"It's only because we are strictly neutral, and recognized as such, that we can carry out our work in such a difficult environment," said Yusuf Mohamed Hassan, the hospital's director since 2004. "Keysaney admits all patients, regardless of their clan, religion or political opinions. The services we provide are essential for the people of Mogadishu." The 90-bed hospital is currently admitting an average of 220 surgical patients each month, over 100 of whom are suffering from weapon-inflicted injuries.

When the hospital first opened in 1992, it had no surgical facilities. The ICRC transformed the building – originally intended as a detention facility – into a hospital, and staffed it with ICRC surgical teams. Since 1994, the hospital has been run by Somali staff employed by the Somali Red Crescent and trained by the ICRC. The support provided by the ICRC includes the payment of salaries and the delivery of medical supplies as well as training.

"The fact that the hospital has already been operating for 20 years is a sad reminder of the seemingly interminable suffering the Somali people have endured," said Patrick Vial, the head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia. "Nevertheless, we are proud that we have been able to consistently make essential emergency services available to all patients, no matter who they are, in very difficult circumstances."

Keysaney, which is one of two ICRC-supported surgical referral hospitals in Mogadishu, has been hit by artillery fire on numerous occasions. As recently as January of this year, it was struck by two mortar shells. In many other ways as well, the hospital has felt the full force of armed conflict. Violence against health-care workers, facilities and patients poses a serious challenge to humanitarian activities. It is imperative that international humanitarian law, which protects services provided by medical facilities such as Keysaney Hospital, be respected at all times.



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