30 June 2009 More than 170,000 people have been displaced from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, since early May when fresh fighting broke out began between Government forces and insurgents, the United Nations humanitarian wing reported today.
In addition to those uprooted from their homes, the fighting between Government forces and the Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam groups have also led to some 250 deaths, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Despite the ongoing fighting and insecurity, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have continued to provide urgently needed life-saving assistance to the affected population.
Most of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) have moved to safer areas within Mogadishu or to makeshift camps on the capital’s outskirts. UNHCR reported last week that an additional 45,000 people have fled towards the Afgooye corridor, 30 kilometres south-east of Mogadishu, joining 400,000 other IDPs who have been displaced since 2007.
In a related development, WFP reported that since late 2007, when naval escorts started protecting ships loaded with WFP food heading to Somalia, not a single ship carrying the agency’s food has been attacked by pirates. This has helped to ensure that a vital lifeline to some 3.5 million need people in need is kept open.
Under the European Union’s Atalanta operation, which started in December last year, WFP has been able to deliver more than 240,000 metric tons of food into Somalia, through Mogadishu, Merka, Bossaso, and Berbera ports.
WFP said it remains extremely grateful to the EU for committing itself to escorting ships carrying the agency’s food for this year.
However, WFP is worried about any rise in Somali piracy attacks against ships carrying humanitarian assistance and commercial cargoes to the port of Mombasa in neighbouring Kenya.
Meanwhile, OCHA is also warning that drought is endangering the livelihoods of more than 700,000 pastoralists in Somalia.
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