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Home >> World
UPDATED: 09:14, May 12, 2007
Displaced Somalis return to Mogadishu as situation still tense: UN
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Somalis who fled recent fighting between the transitional government troops and insurgents are gradually streaming back to Mogadishu amid tension in the war- scarred city, UN said on Friday.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, however, said families who used to live in neighborhoods affected by the fighting are still reluctant to go back, mainly because of the reported presence of soldiers from the transitional government and allied Ethiopian troops.

"Our staff in the Somali capital report that people are only returning to those parts of the city which were not involved in the fighting," the UNHCR said in a statement.

"Civilians fear that should they go back, they might be caught once more in the crossfire if the fighting resumes. Even though fighting has ceased in Mogadishu, the situation remains very tense, " it said.

The deadly clashes carried out by insurgents in the bullet- scarred Mogadishu only abated at the end of last month after street battles that claimed more than 100 lives and displaced up to 400,000 civilians.

The UN agency said people who have returned to Mogadishu mainly lack food, water and medicine and will be appealing for more funds shortly to help Somalis displaced within the country and in surrounding countries.

"Other former residents have not been able to return to their homes because their houses have been destroyed by mortar shelling, or because they can no longer access the place where they used to live because of insecurity," the UNHCR said.

"That is the case of some of the estimated 250,000 people who were internally displaced within the city by the previous conflicts that had been raging in Somalia since the central government collapsed in 1991."

Many of the families who fled the capital to locations further than Afgooye say they want to wait a few weeks before travelling back to the capital to make sure that peace will last.

"Others simply cannot afford to pay for transport back to the city."

The UN refugee agency's statement came as UN top envoy for Somalia arrived in the Horn of Africa nation on Friday to hold discussions with authorities.

Sources said Francois Fall, the UN Secretary General Representative for Somalia met President Abdullahi Yusuf and Premier Ali Mohammed Gedi and also visited Ugandan troops in Mogadishu.

Fall was expected to discuss political issues including security, human rights and reconciliation efforts including cessation of hostilities between the dominant clans in Somalia.

The transitional government which was formed in 2004 in relative safety of neighboring Kenya has been struggling to assert its authority following its rout of militant forces with the help of Ethiopian troops at the start of the year.

Source: Xinhua

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