The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that up to 88,000 people have fled Mogadishu this past weekend due to increased fighting – which is more than have left the Somali capital in the past four months.
“Increased fighting and a general decline in the security situation in the city are prompting this increased exodus,” OCHA said in a press release, noting that entire districts have been emptied of inhabitants.
OCHA noted widespread fear among the population, as daily attacks become better-organized, various authorities issue evacuation orders and conduct house-to-house searches, and large-scale detentions continue.
The UN estimates that more than 400,000 civilians left the volatile capital after fighting earlier in the year. Including the latest waves of displacement and the some 350,000 long-term displaced, the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia now numbers more than 800,000. Overall, 1.5 million people in Somalia are in need of assistance and protection, marking a 50 per cent increase since the beginning of the year.
The deteriorating security situation has also hindered the work of aid agencies at a time when protection, water and food are the most immediate concerns.
“Respect for international humanitarian law in some parts of Somalia is negligible,” said UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes. “I am very concerned that national and international NGOs are now saying that they cannot respond effectively to the crisis because access and security are deteriorating dramatically even as needs are increasing.
“It is the responsibility of the Transitional Federal Authority, including all officials at all levels, to do all they can to facilitate the major humanitarian endeavour required to save lives and ease the suffering of Somalia’s people,” Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, stressed.