Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) is shocked and outraged by the barbaric killing of seven healthcare workers and one civilian at the hands of an armed group in Gololey Village, Balcad District. The healthcare workers, who were abducted on 27 May 2020 and found dead a day later, worked for the Zamzam Foundation, a local NGO providing, among other services, health, education, water and sanitation and orphan care services. Such a heinous act, which inevitably contributes to lowering morale and heightening fear, undermines collective efforts to lift Somalia out of poverty and pervasive conflict.
Healthcare workers in Somalia have long worked under conditions perilous to their personal wellbeing. Despite these risks, many remain committed to upholding the universal Right to Health and providing services for communities, particularly in areas where access to healthcare is limited. The fact that these healthcare workers lost their lives in such a gruesome manner, while performing the selfless act of providing care and support to those in need, is all the more tragic and incomprehensible.
“Somalia is currently battling severe health challenges related to COVID-19. In addition, natural disasters such as floods and a new locust infestation, both which have serious health implications, means the loss of dedicated workers will be all the more keenly felt. At a time when community members depend on health workers to remain healthy and hopeful, this attack on an essential service comes as a major blow” said FESTU general secretary Omar Faruk Osman.
Workers continue to be the backbone of Somalia’s society and the drive behind the country’s economic growth and stability. Workers deserve much better than this. Currently, in many parts of the world, healthcare workers are revered and applauded for the sacrifices they continue to make in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is regrettable that in Somalia cruel elements choose to kill, harm and oppress our healthcare workers rather than celebrate them.
FESTU demands full accountability for this crime. Every effort must be made to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. For too long, such groups have been operating with impunity and trade unions believe that in such unprecedented times, this attack cannot go unpunished. The taking of these innocent lives cannot be in vain but must lead to a true demonstration of social justice and accountability.