Somalia: MSF is deeply concerned for the demands the peaceful liberation of two MSF international staff members held in Bossaso

"We are requesting a peaceful resolution and call for humane treatment for our colleagues."

The two international medical staff working for the international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) who were detained by force by a group of armed persons on December 26 continue to be held in captivity. The organisation reiterates its demand for all parties involved to immediately release our two colleagues and to treat them humanely.

Mercedes García and Pilar Bauza, a Spanish doctor and an Argentinian nurse, continue to be detained near to Bossaso in Somalia more than 40 hours after being taken while riding in an MSF vehicle on their way to work in a feeding centre where MSF is assisting some 7000 children under five who suffer from malnutrition. These children are among the estimated 25,000 internally displaced people living in 19 camps in the region.

The international staff working in MSF's project in Bossaso has been evacuated. An MSF team from Barcelona has arrived in Bossaso yesterday (27 December): the Emergency Unit Coordinator, the Head of Mission for Somalia, and an expert on Somalia from the organisation. This support team is in contact with the local authorities and with the Spanish ambassador in Nairobi. In addition, the organisation is maintaining contact with the authorities in the Puntland region, with international governments, and other international organisations.

"Once again we request a peaceful resolution of this situation and call for the humane treatment of our colleagues," said Dr. Paula Farias, president of MSF in Spain. "Attacks on humanitarian workers make access to the most vulnerable people in the country even more difficult. Somalia is a forgotten country which makes the suffering even greater."

MSF has worked continuously in Somalia for more than 16 years and is currently providing medical care in eleven regions in the country. There are some 60 MSF international staff and more than 800 national staff now working in Somalia, performing more than 300,000 outpatient consultations and admitting an estimated 10,000 patients every year. The MSF project in Bossaso began in May 2007.