Aid agencies condemn arson attack on clinic in southern Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Two aid agencies on Monday condemned an arson attack on a local clinic in the Gedo region, southern Somalia.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somalia Red Crescent Society (SRCS) said Saturday's arson attack, instigated by protestors, destroyed the SRCS Bardere clinic and left three staff injured in the incident.

"Our three colleagues are recovering from their injuries. We are assessing the damage to the clinic but the destruction is massive. The fire consumed the entire clinic and it took hours to put it out," Ahmed Mohamed Adale, director of the SRCS said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu.

According to the UN, access to health care remains a problem in Somalia with most health facilities located in places out of reach for much of the population.

The two charities said only a shell remains in the place of the clinic that saw an average of 2,000 monthly consultations.

ICRC said the incident also disrupted activities of both organizations including the crucial mobile clinic operations whose equipment was destroyed in the fire.

"This is unacceptable! The families who go to the clinic are now forced to seek medical care elsewhere. Under no circumstance should a health facility be destroyed or healthcare workers injured," said Juerg Eglin, head of the ICRC in Somalia.

The charity said only 15 percent of people living in rural areas of Somalia are estimated to have access to medical care, a challenge often further complicated by the ongoing conflict and climatic shocks.

The Bardere clinic which was opened in 2000 and is run by 19 medical staff was expanded in 2018. It provides free medical services which include outpatient care, a therapeutic program as well as a targeted supplementary feeding program to help families stave off malnutrition in children. Enditem

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