JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Doctors Without Borders said Friday it plans to return to Somalia, more than three years after closing its operations in the turbulent country amid “extreme attacks” on its staff.
The medical aid charity known by the French acronym MSF said its return to the Horn of Africa country will be a cautious one.
The charity pulled out of Somalia in August 2013 after 22 years of operations there. It cited an environment where armed groups and civilian leaders increasingly allowed or condoned killings, assaults and abductions of humanitarian workers.
MSF last year started exploring a possible return, sending a delegation to Somalia in May to meet with the prime minister and others.
Between decades of conflict and natural disasters such as drought, Somalia has an estimated 1.1 million displaced people and a weak health system. In recent months, the country has faced the added burden of thousands returning home from the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in neighboring Kenya, which is expected to close in May.
The Britain-based International NGO Safety Organization calls Somalia “one of the most dangerous countries in the world for aid workers.”
The country is trying to rebuild after decades of chaos that began in 1991 when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator. Extremist group al-Shabab continues to launch deadly attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere, threatening the country’s first functioning central government in years.