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SOMALIA: Up to 40,000 civilians flee Mogadishu

NAIROBI, 15 March 2007 (IRIN) - Escalating violence and insecurity in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, forced at least 40,000 civilians to flee the city in February, United Nations humanitarian agencies working in the country have said.

"Insecurity, fear of attacks, removal from public buildings and outright violence are the main reasons for the movement of peoples and more than 40,000 people have left Mogadishu in the past month," the agencies said in a February situation report released on Wednesday.

Insecurity had also affected the ability of humanitarian organisations to respond to emergencies and emerging needs. "The insecurity has restricted mobility and access and this undermines efforts to re-engage at a level that would be a commensurate response to humanitarian needs," they said.

Although cross-border movement of humanitarian supplies along the Kenya-Somali border had improved, movement of asylum-seekers remained impossible.

The conflict in Somalia has lasted for 16 years and displaced millions. In early March, the first troops with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) arrived in Mogadishu.

Flooding in late-2006 also contributed to food insecurity. As a result, one million Somalis, including 400,000 people displaced countrywide, will need food aid in the next six months. "Somalia remains chronically food insecure, with IDPs [internally displaced persons] extremely vulnerable," the report said.

According to the agencies, other factors could aggravate food security, including continued localised conflict, concern over Rift Valley Fever, which is still unconfirmed, and associated potential flooding.

An increase in acute watery diarrhoea had also been reported, with a total of 3,633 cases throughout southern Somalia so far, including 143 deaths. These increased cases have been linked to post-flooding conditions, lack of access to safe drinking water and poor hygiene and sanitation practices.

"Given the current context, it is essential that the creation of an enabling environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance is supported and partners remain committed to the process of stabilisation and reconciliation, building on positive developments and new opportunities for access," the agencies said.

The report was released as the Somali government announced it was planning a national reconciliation conference in April. Speaking to reporters in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi appealed for US$42 million to help improve security in Mogadishu before the conference.

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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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