Patient Stories

Terrorist attack in Somalia- Feb 2nd- 1994

Posted In: Dental conditions Anonymous | November 11, 2018 | 08:14 PM

Terrorist attack in Somalia- Feb 2nd- 1994

I suffered a terrorist attack in Somalia (Baidoa), February 2nd 1994


I am a Nutritionist and Dietitian with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Diploma in Management of Natural Disasters, Refugees, and Displaced Persons.

In July 1993 when in Chicago, I had an offer from WORLD VISION INTERNATIONAL that does relief around the world) to join them as Health Officer in Somalia (East-Africa) for 1 year.

Although the security conditions at the duty station in Somalia (Baidoa) were very bad at that moment (gunshots at night, looting of goods, attacks on vehicles, etc.) we continued our daily activities.

We planned weekly our activities and with a military escort from UNOSOM (The United Nations forces in Somalia) and we traveled to isolated towns and villages 3 to 8 hours per day. We implemented immunizations of children under 5 years old, care of high-risk pregnant women, health and nutrition education to community health workers, education of birth attendants and distribution of essential medicines.

The international staff of our agency at Baidoa’s office were: a North American man in charge of food, commodities and agricultural tools distribution, an Englishman which was the engineer and handy-man, an administrative officer (a North American woman) and the health team: a North American Nurse Practitioner and me. There was also a part-time Country Director (Indian), who served half the month in Baidoa (Somalia) and the other half in Nairobi (Kenya).

On December 24, 1993, all the international agencies working in Baidoa were invited to a Christmas party at the GOAL (an Irish agency working in Baidoa). At 10:00 PM, a bomb exploded in the compound, destroying several walls and damaging some vehicles. Fortunately, Irish Officers from the United Nations were with us, they took preventive and offensive measures to protect us; meanwhile we waited 2 hours for United Nations tanks to escort us to our houses. Later, the same night another bomb exploded at Catholic Relief Services compound (in Baidoa).

On December 26, members of our agency, found in the local market in Baidoa, a letter (one side hand-written and the other side typed) in which the authors were warning all the international agencies in Baidoa, not to celebrate any Christian or religious holidays; if we did, they would retaliate against us.
That day I expressed during lunch to our staff and the Administrator of the Office (the Country Director was not present), that I was worried about the location of my bedroom, because it was on the outside wall of the compound near a gangway-like corridor; it had communication to the street and did not have any kind of security.
The administrator said that she would look at that problem. Two days later, the Administrator told me that there was not a problem, and that they had talked to the property owner and that he put some shrubs in the passage to deter anyone from entering the corridor behind my room. Again, I expressed discomfort of the situation that day and 3 or 4 days later. No further security measures were taken despite my verbal protests of the situation.

The explosion occurred February 2nd, 1994, 5:45 am. I got up as usual and went to take a shower, and then returned to my room that was the last thing that I remember.
Later, (I don’t know at what time) I regained consciousness on the patio of the compound where Nancy Jex (the nurse, my co-worker) was administering me life saving first aid. She told me that a bomb had exploded and that I was going to the UNISOM hospital. I was transported by truck to the United Nations hospital in Baidoa (a tent hospital) where military Indian doctors, treated my shock, they gave blood transfusions, administered painkillers, cleaned the wounds, and did X- rays (all the X- rays were not usable because the machine was very old and in poor repair). The next day, I was airlifted to Nairobi (Kenya) and was treated at Nairobi’s Hospital.

A general description of the wounds I suffered:
• Loss of consciousness
• Large blood loss
• Chin broken in three different places
• Inferior gum cut in two places
• Big wound in the left side of the face and neck under the ear, resulting in lost tissue and muscle on my face and neck
• Pneumo-thorax (air in the thoracic cavity) a piece of wood from the door or window frame entered my left lung.
• Big wound with loss and damage of muscular mass and other tissues in the left arm, that required several skin grafts to close and caused much disfiguration
• Fractures of the left wrist
• Deep and extensive puncture wound to the left thigh.
• All my ribs had multiple fractures.
• Extensive burns and injuries to my back

At the Nai

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