28 May 2010 Renewed fighting between Government troops and armed opposition groups have displaced over 17,000 people from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, over the past month, with more than 14,300 fleeing in the last two weeks alone, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.
This brings to 200,000 the number of Somalis estimated to have been uprooted since the beginning of this year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The agency noted that the rates of casualties and displacement have increased over the past two weeks, with field reports suggesting that at least 60 people have been killed and more than 50 wounded and injured in street clashes.
The majority of those forced to flee in the past two weeks are displaced within Mogadishu, which already shelters more than 350,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).
While some families are being hosted by relatives or friends, many more are on their own in the streets of the strife-torn capital.
“The number of displaced families, living in the streets of Mogadishu in extreme conditions is gradually increasing, according to reports from our partners,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.
“These are the most vulnerable and utterly dependent on scarce aid the humanitarian agencies manage to deliver and meagre remittances from relatives living abroad,” he said, adding that hundreds of children are forced to beg in the streets and many women beg in the main markets.
“Our partners in the Somali capital report that people are exhausted, tense and hungry,” Mr. Mahecic said, “but they still constantly listen to the radio, hoping they will hear that the fighting has ended.”
An estimated 1.4 million Somalis are displaced within the Horn of Africa nation, while more than 580,000 live as refugees in the neighbouring countries.
The country continues to be plagued by fighting between the forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its supporters and Islamist rebels. It remains the scene of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world with nearly 3 million people dependent on aid, out of a total population of nearly 8 million.
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