Somali violence uproots 80,000 civilians in January alone: UN

09:15, February 03, 2010      

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The United Nations refugee agency Tuesday reported that a sharp rise in violence in Somalia in January left nearly 260 civilians dead, in addition to uprooting over 80,000 and causing widespread destruction.

According to local sources, intense clashes between Government forces and militia groups fighting in the strife-torn central regions have also left 253 civilians wounded.

All of this "makes January the deadliest month since last August," Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters.

During January, some 29,000 people have been uprooted by heavy fighting in Dhusamareebb in Galgaduud region, with the internally displaced persons (IDPs) there facing difficult conditions.

"Fearful of returning to their homes, many are reported to be sleeping in the open with dwindling shelter and little water. There are also growing concerns about the health conditions of particularly vulnerable groups -- such as children, women and elderly," said Mahecic.

Also last month, over 25,000 have fled their homes to escape renewed clashes in Beled Weyne in Hiraan region, while another 18, 000 are known to have been displaced in the on-going conflict in the capital, Mogadishu.

UNHCR said that worsening security has made it difficult, if not impossible, for humanitarian workers to access the needy population.

The agency plans to distribute emergency relief items and shelter material to over 18,000 people in 27 locations where the displaced are temporarily settled around Dhusamareebb and Beled- Weyne as soon as the security conditions allow.

More than 1.4 million people are internally displaced in Somalia, which has been devastated by factional fighting and without a functioning central government since 1991, owing to escalating violence and a worsening humanitarian situation.

In addition, some 560,000 Somalis live as refugees in the neighboring countries, including Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it is working with its non-governmental partners in Somalia to carry out disease surveillance. There are indications that acute watery diarrhoea is widespread in parts of the country's central and southern regions.

Source: Xinhua
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