The grounds of the SOS Children's Village in the north of the Somali capital came under fire again last week. Gunfire also hit the buildings of the SOS Children's Village facilities in the most serious fighting that has been seen between Ethiopian troops and insurgents in the past few months. Three staff members were injured and substantial damage was caused to the SOS nursing school (see report from 21 April 2008).
Just a few days later there were again violent attacks, during which a longstanding employee at the SOS Children's Village was killed and three civilians were found wounded on the grounds of the SOS Children's Village. Ethiopian troops that are supporting the Somali government in its fight against insurgents also forced their way into the SOS clinic and looted fuel and medication stocks.
SOS Children's Villages is deeply shocked by the loss of one of its staff members and strongly condemns the attacks that have been taking place on civilian facilities in recent months. SOS Children's Villages calls for unconditional protection for civilians and guaranteed safety for aid organisations, whose work is almost impossible in the current circumstances.
The SOS clinic has for many years been one of the most important medical centres for thousands of people, particularly for mothers and children. Its patients not only come from Mogadishu, but also often walk for miles to reach one of the few medical facilities that are still running in Mogadishu and offer medical care free of charge.
All of the SOS Children's Village facilities had to be evacuated at the end of 2007. The SOS families have still not been able to return to their homes and are living in temporary accommodation in safe areas of town. The school, kindergarten and nursing school are temporarily located near to the airport in Mogadishu. The SOS clinic is the only facility to have reopened. It did so in mid March on condition that the situation was closely monitored and that if necessary, it would be closed once again.