MSF reiterates appeal for release of abducted Spanish staff

Médecins Sans Frontièreshas appealed to authorities and people in Somalia to ensure the safe release of two of its workers, who were abducted in October.

Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut, both Spanish nationals, were abducted while providing emergency aid to Somalis in the Dadaab refugee camp. The camp, considered the largest of its kind, is located in northern Kenya near the border with Somalia.

In early December, MSF said they had received reports that two foreign women fitting the description of Serra and Thiebaut were seen in the Afgoye district in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region.

The humanitarian agency is “reviewing its ability” to continue its work in Somalia in light of the abduction and recent shooting that killed two other MSF staff members, Phillipe Havet and Andrias Karel Keiluhuo, in Mogadishu.

“To effectively continue our medical humanitarian work for populations affected by violence in Somalia, MSF needs all parties to the conflict, the leadership as well as the people of Somalia, to support us in this work and help ensure the safety and security of humanitarian workers,” Dr. Unni Karunakara, international president of MSF, said in a Jan. 7 press release. “For our colleagues Philippe and Kace, this failed tragically. For Blanca and Mone, the leadership and people of Somalia have the responsibility to facilitate the safe and prompt resolution of their abduction.”

MSF has been operating in Somalia since 1991, helping Somalis from all sides of conflict. It says it has assisted 225,000 patients, vaccinated 110,000 children and attended to 30,000 malnourished children in the troubled African country over the past six months.

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.