In Mogadishu, arguably one of the most dangerous cities in the world, SOS Children provide long-term family-based care for orphaned and abandoned children. We also run an SOS Hospital which provides medical care for 30,000 patients every year. The SOS Hospital includes a Mother and Child Clinic which is the only functioning maternity ward and gynecological care facility in the country.
However, in the last few weeks, violent conflict between government troops and Al-Shabab have seriously affected our work in the city. Not only have we been forced to evacuate the children and mothers from our Children's Village in Mogadishu, but when troops moved in and occupied the SOS site, we were forced to close the SOS Hospital. This is the first time it has been closed in 25 years.
Thankfully, troops have now left both of our facilities here. Our children, SOS mothers and hospital staff remain evacuated from both facilities here for their safety, but we are hoping to get the hospital up and running again, as soon as it is safe for staff to return.
The fighting has not affected our Emergency Famine Relief Programme in refugee camps on the outskirts of the city and in the southern city of Baidoa.
The ongoing conflict in Somalia have long-been affecting our projects in the country. We have been forced to evacuate the Children's Village numerous times, and over the years, several staff have been killed, including Ali Shabye, who was killed last Monday. Ali Shabye, in his mid-50's, had worked with our organisation since 1994.
However, despite these dangers, SOS Children has remained in Somalia and has been one of the very few NGOs to run a comprehensive social programme in the county. Even though our projects have been temporarily evacuated, we continue providing care for our children and mothers in safe-houses; and plan to re-open the Hospital as soon as possible. At a time when many other international NGOs have left the country, we remain committed to the children and their families of Mogadishu.
The closure of the SOS Hospital comes as a devastating blow to the hundreds of patients in desperate need of treatment. Every month, 500 women give birth at the maternity ward. The pressure on our hospital has grown in recent months, with more and more refugees coming to Mogadishu in search of food and water.
Patients who were forced to evacuate last week included 40 women from the maternity unit, some of whom had just given birth by caesarean section, and children being treated for severe malnutrition. It is feared some may have died shortly after fleeing. Speaking to Reuters, Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim, director of SOS Children in Somalia, said "The hospital cannot function at the moment. This zone has become a battlefield."
The need to reopen the SOS Hospital is also a matter of grave concern to staff who are worried about the well-being of their patients who are in need of urgent care. In September alone, the hospital administered medical services to almost 7,000 individuals. The fate of the hospital’s 2,600 patients is unclear, as a coordinated evacuation plan was not possible over the weekend due to the abrupt nature of the evacuation order.
How you can help
While the fighting and drought continues in Somalia, we desperately need your help.
Due to the severe drought, there is desperate need for emergency food and medical aid for the many displaced people sheltering at refugee camps, and we urgently need sponsors for the SOS Children's Village in Mogadishu so that we can continue to offer a life-line to children and those in urgent need of medical attention.
Click here to make a one-off donation to our work in the country, or start sponsoring now to help us to focus on the long-term welfare of children who have no one to care for them as a result of the conflict and the famine.
SOS Children's Villages Somalia
SOS Children has been working in Somalia since 1985. An SOS Children's Village in Mogadishu provides a new home for 120 orphaned or abandoned children where they can stay until they reach independence. An SOS hospital with a special Mother and Child Clinic provides free medical care for 30,000 patients a year.