Somalia: 12,000 displaced by Mogadishu fighting

More than 12,000 people have fled fighting in Mogadishu in the past week and a humanitarian crisis there is intensifying with aid workers unable to access the needy, the U.N. refugee agency said on March 30. Dozens of civilians have been killed by mortar rounds and gunfire in the Somali capital, according to William Spindler of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “There has been a steady outflow from Mogadishu,” he told a news conference, estimating 57,000 people have been uprooted by the conflict since the beginning of February.

Those fleeing the capital have headed south to Lower Shabelle or northeast to Galkayo, a difficult journey where they risk being robbed, raped, abducted or killed, Spindler said. Many of the displaced are hungry, suffer from health problems such as diarrhoea, and face harassment from bandits. “Those arriving are often destitute and dependent on other people to support them,” he said. UNHCR has distributed basic relief items such as plastic sheets to Galkayo. (Reuters, March 30)

Rebels shot down an Ethiopian helicopter gunship in Mogadishu March 30. Aid workers say scores of people have died in the capital’s worst fighting in years this week. (Reuters, March 30)

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