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SOMALIA: Main hospital stretched as Mogadishu clashes continue

NAIROBI, 30 March 2007 (IRIN) - The main hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu has been overwhelmed by the number of injured people seeking treatment since fighting in the city intensified on Thursday, medical sources told IRIN.

"Our capacity to handle the number of people coming for treatment is being stretched," Sheikhdon Salad Ilmi, the director of Medina Hospital, said on Friday.

The hospital's beds, Ilmi said, were full and people were being treated in the corridors or under trees. While the hospital had sufficient drugs, it urgently needed mattresses and linen. Other hospitals across the city also reported receiving a high number of wounded.

"On Thursday, we had 93 people with various injuries, some very serious. As of today [Friday], we have a total of 175, with more coming in," Ilmi said, adding that almost all the injured were civilians, including 25 women and 15 children. Most were suffering from shrapnel wounds caused by mortars, artillery and Katusha rockets.

Another medical source told IRIN that an estimated 80 people were killed and another 300 wounded across the city since Thursday. "This does not include the dead and wounded of the Ethiopians and the Islamic courts people, who are taking their casualties to their own facilities," he added.

"There are many more people than those in hospitals, who are being cared for in their neighbourhoods," Madina Muhammad, a member of the civil society helping the displaced, said. This is because there is no way to take them to the hospitals due to the insecurity on the roads.

A local journalist said the fighting was as intense on Friday as on Thursday, when it resumed after a six-day ceasefire. Insurgents shot down a helicopter gunship at about 12:30pm local time (9:30am GMT), he said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all sides in Mogadishu to put an immediate end to the fighting.

The UN estimates that renewed violence and insecurity had forced at least 56,000 civilians to flee the city since February, 12,000 of them in the last week alone.

Ban said he was particularly concerned about air strikes and the introduction of tanks and heavy artillery into densely populated parts of the city, further increasing the security threat to large numbers of civilians.

"This is a dangerous and troubling new development that has the potential to unravel the peace process," he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which supports the hospitals in Mogadishu, said scores of people had been killed and hundreds wounded, while thousands were fleeing their homes.

"For the time being the capital's two hospitals [Keysaney and Medina] are still able to cope with the influx of wounded, but we plan to re-supply them as soon the security situation allows," said Alexandre Liebeskind, ICRC deputy head of operations for the Horn of Africa.

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Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.



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