Somalia: Norwegians Concerned by Difficult Working Conditions for Humanitarian Workers

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Heikki Holmås

Somalilandsun – “I am deeply concerned over the difficult working conditions for humanitarian workers in Somalia, and the security risks for those seeking to access aid. The population is in need of humanitarian support in many areas of the country, and the right to safely receive aid should be respected by all parts of the conflict,” said Minister of International Development Heikki EidsvollHolmås.

Somalis has been suffering from armed conflict for more than two decades. Despite some political progress over the last year, the security situation remains difficult and unpredictable in many areas. Yesterday, Médecins Sans Frontières announced the closure of all its medical programmes in Somalia due to unacceptable working conditions including the killing of staff and attacks on medical facilities. The organisation carried out more than 624 000 medical consultations in the country in 2012 alone, and their efforts will be greatly missed by those in need.

“Médecins Sans Frontières has performed life-saving and courageous work for the people in Somalia for 22 years. The fact that they have now made the tough decision to pull out of the country sends a strong message on the extent that humanitarian space is being compromised. People in dire need should be able to receive the assistance they need and aid workers should be able to carry out their duties without risking their lives,” said Mr Holmås.

Norway provides extensive humanitarian and development aid to Somalia, and will continue its efforts to promote political stability and peaceful development in the country. In 2012, Norway started to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Norwegian Red Cross on the initiative “Health Care in Danger”. The initiative aims to increase awareness of the consequences of attacks on health personnel and facilities in crisis situations, and how this can be mitigated.

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