Marco Meneses: I suffered a terrorist attack in Somalia

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Terrorist Attack in Somalia (Baidoa) February 2nd 1994

DESCRIPTION OF THE BOMBING

I am a Nutritionist and Dietitian and I have ben working in International Relief and Development in Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan and Egypt.

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

Although the security conditions at my 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 in order to implement 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.

In the last days of December 1993 and the first days of January 1994, there were a lot of public demonstrations in the streets from the general population against United Nations troops and foreign agencies working there.

The explosion occurred February 2nd, 1994, 5:45 am. I got up as usual and I went to take my 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 life saving first aid. She told me that a bomb had injured me 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 pain killers, 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.

This is a general description of the wounds I suffered:
• Loss of consciousness
• Large blood loss
• Chin broken in 3 different places
• Inferior gum cut in 2 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.
• Many of my ribs had multiple fractures.
• Extensive burns and injuries to my back

At the Nairobi hospital I was in intensive care for 2 weeks after those 3 plastic surgeries were performed to begin repairing my face and arm.

February 22, 1994, I was air-transported from Nairobi to Chicago (under the medical care of Nancy Jex).

February 23, 1994 I was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois.

February 24, 1994 Dr. Thomas Mustoe a reputable plastic surgeon performed plastic surgery on my face left thigh, left arm, and my jaw.

I was discharged from the hospital March 3, 1994.
After my hospitalization, I received physical therapy for my left arm and leg to help recover flexibility and strength. However, I have not fully recovered.

Since that time I have been under the care of several physicians from Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Both Dr. David Hanson (Department of Otolaryngology) and Dr. Timothy Hain (Associate Professor of Neurology and Director of Vestibular Testing Laboratory), treat me because I have lost hearing capacity in my left ear due to damage to my inner ear. This damage has caused continued problems with dizziness, lost of balance, vertigo, and disorientation and ringing in my ear.

I don't have an official report of the incident from the UNISOM investigations in the field, but I know through unofficial sources that 15 to 30 kilograms of dynamite or a plastic explosive were put in the wall of my bedroom on the side that faced the gangway, that was accessible from the street.