Somalia: UN expert warns health care standards “dangerously low”

MOGADISHU/GENEVA (5 April 2022) – The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia has urged the central government to improve health care services, end child marriage and ensure protection of journalists.

At the end of a six-day visit to the country, Isha Dyfan acknowledged the steps taken by the authorities and humanitarian partners to implement an Emergency Response and Preparedness Plan and provide food, water and other essential items to support IDP populations in Baidoa and other areas of the country.

The UN expert called on the international community to ensure access to basic social services including drinking water, sanitation facilities, housing, health care education for all children, in particular girls. She also urged the Government to expand the delivery of public health services, in light of the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, and increase funding for its health system.

"Access to health care remains dangerously low in the country,” Dyfan told journalists in Mogadishu at the end of her visit on 2 April.

“There is only one government hospital in the capital, Mogadishu, and people often have to seek health care services at a private health facility and pay out of their own pocket very high amounts for their own treatment. Only a few people can afford these services, thereby leading to high child and maternal mortality.”

She also called on the authorities to end forced and child marriages.

Dyfan said she was concerned by arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists by security personnel across the country and reiterated the importance of respecting the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

The UN expert met State officials, representatives of humanitarian organisations and civil society, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and UN agencies, funds and programmes.

Ms. Isha Dyfan (Sierra Leone) was appointed as the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia by the Human Rights Council in May 2020. Prior to her appointment, she was the Director of International Advocacy at Amnesty International. Before joining Amnesty International in April 2018, she was the Chief of the Human Rights Section in the UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan (UNAMID) where she served for four and a half years before retiring at the level of director. She is a Barrister-at-Law and educated in Sierra Leone and the UK where she studied History and Law respectively.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.