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Cuban medics leave stations after kidnap

Cuban doctors
Cuban doctors. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Cuban doctors posted to counties bordering Somalia are leaving their stations in fear after their colleagues were kidnapped in Mandera and taken to Somalia.

At the weekend, two specialists posted to Lamu and Tana River left in a huff as the government evacuated medics attached to Wajir and Garissa counties. "It's true. The two Cuban doctors travelled out of Lamu abruptly over the weekend,” Lamu Health Executive Anne Gathoni said Monday.

“The Mandera incident is really traumatising them and that's why they are seeking guidance and counselling. It's a matter under discussion on whether they will return to Lamu or not bearing in mind that our county also borders Somalia.”

The two, Dr Liliana Casos, an orthopaedic surgeon and Dr Denis Orozco, a family physician, were deployed to Lamu in July, 2018.

Tana River County, which also borders the war-wracked Horn of Africa country, suffered a similar blow on Monday.

Tana River Deputy County Commissioner Michael Kioni confirmed that Dr Oriol Valon Costa, a surgeon, and Dr Madelin Areas Hall, a family doctor, had been recalled to Nairobi.

He said the doctors felt unsafe. "It is an order from above and part of security measures the State has taken to ensure all other doctors are safe, since it seems they are becoming a new target," he said.

The health workers in Wajir and Garissa were evacuated following a national security advisory from Nairobi.

Garissa police boss Aaron Morasae disclosed that the team from Garissa left on Saturday morning, and it was not clear when they would resume work.

The departure of the medics is likely to hurt service delivery with patients expected to travel long distances to access specialised care.

Dr Assel Herera Correa (a general physician) and Dr Landy Rodriguez (a surgeon) were abducted by armed assailants on their way to work in Mandera town.

One of the police officers guarding the medics was killed instantly while another escaped with injuries.

It was the second abduction of foreigners in five months by suspected Al-Shabaab militia who are linked to the Al-Qaeda terror group.

Mandera elders left for Somalia on Friday to negotiate with their counterparts the release of the two doctors.

Elders of the Somali community are highly regarded and have the ability to resolve dangerous and sometimes complex issues.

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