SOS-Kinderdorf International has just been informed that a hand grenade exploded very close to three employees of SOS Children's Villages in the Somalian capital. The co-workers were crossing a public street between the clinic and the children's village. All three remained miraculously unharmed, apart from some scratches.
The reason behind this incident is not clear. In the area surrounding the SOS Children's Village facilities in Mogadishu sporadic fighting between various groups often breaks out.
Willy Huber, regional director for SOS Children's Villages in East Africa, was relieved to hear that the employees were unharmed. He described the present situation in Mogadishu as very tense. A new government was democratically elected by representatives of all Somalia's political parties in Nairobi (Kenya) on 10 October 2004. Under the leadership of Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed the new government is attempting to establish control over the various clan-led regions of the divided capital. Huber expects the next few weeks to be critical, also with regards to the conditions under which staff has to work, as well as life in general in the SOS Children's Village facilities.
The SOS Clinic came about as part of a large medical and food provision emergency programme, which started operating in 1990, shortly after the start of the civil war. It was originally planned to be kept in operation for six months, but the lack of state hospitals and medical personnel has made it necessary for the clinic to continue offering medical services to larger sections of the population.
The SOS Mother and Child Clinic in Mogadishu remains the only functioning maternity ward and gynaecological care facility in Somalia. Pregnant women and mothers with their children from all over Somalia often walk for days to reach the clinic, which provides some 260,000 treatments per year and has a paediatric unit that has saved and improved the lives of over 111,000 children per year.
The humanitarian aid office of the European Union, ECHO, is providing medical supplies, fuel and other equipment for the clinic, while SOS Children's Villages has also partnered with UNICEF to carry out a major vaccination programme.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) is helping SOS Children's Villages fund a TB vaccination programme that has cured up to 600 children per year.
SOS Children's Villages is also engaged in a major food programme in cooperation with the WFP (World Food Programme). Some 15,000 food packages containing, among others, oil, milk, flour, sugar and maize, are distributed to families in need on a weekly basis.