Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's Going On?

The latest from Somalia:

So what's going on in Somalia, you ask?  Ahh, you don't want to know.  There's trouble over in the horn of Africa, some of it involving our dear Doctors Without Borders.  As you probably know, we got together and raised over $4,000 for DWB at the Runners Without Borders event last weekend.  I requested that the money go to Somalia if possible (DWB does critical work all over the world so I'm sure it could be put to good use in many places, but Somalia seems to need assistance the most right now).  One of the super-critical and time-sensitive tasks DWB is trying to accomplish in Somalia right now is a massive measles vaccination campaign for children.  Yup, that measles shot we all got as babies in the USA, well, they don't get those shots over in Somalia.  And measles is actually a nasty and virulent little disease with a very high fatality rate among small children, particularly children who are already malnourished.

So DWB took it upon themselves to try to vaccinate as many high-risk children as they could, focusing efforts on the capital, Mogadishu.  But last week heavy fighting erupted (side note, does "heavy fighting" ever do anything besides "erupt"?) in Mogadishu, forcing the DWB doctors to abandon the campaign for the time being.  Read DWB's press release here: Somalia: Vaccination campaign Suspended Due to Fighting in Daynile.

Some thoughts from the press release; Daynile is on the outskirts of Mogadishu, and I'm assuming this is where a lot of the refugees are coming from the famine-striken areas.  So it's an important base of operations for DWB, since this is likely as close as they can get to the people that are the worst off.  Although they have suspended the measles program, they are still at the hospital, providing medical assistance and nutritional assistance as much as they can.  I take two things from this.  One, the DWB doctors are total bad-asses and I am more proud than ever to support them, and you should be too.  Two, the Somalians really need to put down their guns, even for just a little while, so these doctors can save the lives of their children.  Priorities, people.  It's all very irritating. 

The other bit of news from DWB in Somalia is the news of a kidnapping of two DWB staff members from a refugee camp in Dabaab, Kanya, which is serving as a Somalian refugee camp.  This happened on October 13th, and as of yet I believe the two staffers are still being held by their kidnappers.  You can read this article here:
Kenya: Two MSF Staff Abducted in Kenya (Updated).  Dangerous indeed.  You can read the article, but the effect of the kidnapping is that DWB has suspended much of their operations in the Kenyan refugee camps until they can get the situation resolved.  Maybe the refugee camps need more protection, but DWB tries very hard to distance themselves from the conflicts that cause these refugee crises, and not take sides, but as you can see it's difficult not to get into trouble.  Trouble has a way of finding you, I suspect, in places such as these.

What is also interesting to note is that DWB does not want this kidnapping to be publicized, as publicity is not helping their efforts to get the staffers returned.  So, uh, I'm not totally sure I should be writing about this, but the story went out on much larger news organizations already, so it's probably ok that I'm bringing it to your attention today, since I expect about, you know, 23 people to read this.

What's my point besides being full of rather depressing news today?  I wanted to give you all a greater appreciation of the dangers that the men and women of DWB face in trying to help people in the worst places in the world.  Major props to them.  Hopefully the money we raised last week will do some good there, hopefully they can get back to working at full-capacity soon. 

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