Somalia: unexploded shells threaten hospital in Mogadishu

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The 11 shells that hit Medina Hospital in Mogadishu without exploding three days ago have been collected up and stored, waiting for a bomb disposal unit to neutralize them.

Even so, their presence inside the hospital compound threatens medical staff, patients and visitors. Two guards were injured by a shell that exploded the same day, but are now recovering.

"We are concerned about the patients and staff at Medina. These unexploded shells could cause death or injury, and they may well prevent people from getting lifesaving care," said Olivier Humbert-Droz, deputy head of the ICRC’s delegation for Somalia. "Endangering this vital medical facility is totally unacceptable."

Although nothing suggests that the hospital was deliberately targeted, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation not to harm medical staff, hospitals, clinics and similar facilities. Attacks may be directed only against persons taking a direct part in hostilities and against military objectives, and warring parties must take all necessary precautions to avoid harming the civilian population and civilian objects.

Medina hospital, which is clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem, is one of two ICRC-supported surgical referral hospitals in Mogadishu. It is a community-based hospital and accepts all patients, regardless of their clan, their religion or their political background. The ICRC provides the hospital with surgical equipment, medicines and training for doctors and nurses. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 550 war patients have been treated at Medina, including more than 150 women and around 50 children.