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SOMALIA: ICRC counts cost to civilians

NAIROBI, 26 February 2007 (IRIN) - More than 430 people have been admitted to two of Mogadishu's three hospitals with wounds sustained in the rampant violence in the city since the beginning of 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said, urging parties to the conflict to consider the welfare of civilians.

"In February alone, Keysaney Hospital, run by the Somali Red Crescent Society, and Medina Hospital have admitted more than 200 wounded, including at least 30 women and 24 children," the ICRC said in a statement.

It estimated that dozens of people had died in the violence in February.

The ICRC also expressed concern over the fate of people it said had allegedly been arrested in connection with the conflict and whose whereabouts remained unknown.

Civilians in the Somali capital are frequently caught up in clashes pitting forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and their Ethiopian allies against insurgents loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), whose fighters were driven out of the city in December 2006.

The African Union is in the process of putting together an African peace-support mission for Somalia, which is expected to replace Ethiopian troops, who went into Somalia in December 2006 and helped the TFG defeat the UIC. The UIC forces had seized control of most of the country and were undermining the limited authority of the interim government set up in 2004 after reconciliation talks in neighbouring Kenya.

Pascal Hundt, head of ICRC's Somali delegation, said the agency was providing medical supplies to the Keysaney and Medina hospitals to ensure the facilities had the capacity to treat war-related injuries.



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