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UNICEF appeals for checkpoint access to health services in Mogadishu

NAIROBI, 7 December 2007 – UNICEF Representative to Somalia, Christian Balslev-Olesen, has appealed to all parties in the current Mogadishu conflict to help to reduce the impact of war on the children and women in the Somali capital by granting safe access across checkpoints to those in need of medical care.

“UNICEF is deeply concerned and distressed that checkpoints and roadblocks are posing an additional challenge to wounded or sick children and women as they try to get medical assistance,” said Balslev-Olesen. “We are therefore appealing to everyone involved in this conflict to allow women and children safe passage across the city so that they can access basic, life-saving medical services,” he added.

According to reliable reports from the capital, children, adolescents, pregnant women and mothers - some of them injured by shells or stray bullets – are being stopped and turned back at checkpoints, particularly at night, while attempting to reach health posts.

“To be denied access to basic health services in such critical circumstances greatly compounds the distress of the children and women who are amongst those most heavily affected by the current conflict: fighting that has left many children killed, maimed, displaced and orphaned,” said Balslev-Olesen.

According to UNICEF, those who have been turned back at checkpoints include women in need of antenatal and post-natal care and many children requiring urgent medical treatment for conditions such as diarrhoea. Similarly, medical practitioners, doctors and nurses face the same obstacle as they attempt to reach their workplaces to help those in need.

Checkpoints are also preventing children from accessing education at a time when school could provide shelter and a safe space for their survival and protection. Some 80 per cent of Mogadishu schools are now closed due to the capital’s dangerous environment.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For interviews, please call: 
• Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative, Tel: +254-20-7623952 / +254-20-350420 Mobile: +254 722 514 569 or +254 733 629 933
• Nuradin Dirie (for interviews in Somali and Arabic), +254 722 582 646

For further information, contact: 
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media New York, +2123267426, pmccormick@unicef.org
Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Somalia: Tel: +254-20-7623958. Mobile: +254-722-719-867, Email: dshepherdjohnson@unicef.org


 

 

 

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