UNHCR calls for respect for civilian life and aid agencies as mortar attacks continue in Somali capital

Briefing Notes, 27 March 2012

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 27 March 2012, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is concerned at a continuation in mortar attacks in Mogadishu, which claimed three more lives yesterday. Several mortars landed in the Beerta Darawiishta (Darwish) settlement for internally displaced people near the Somali Parliament building in the Waardhiigley district of the Somali capital at around 0215 on Monday morning. It is reported that three internally displaced people, including a father and his three year old child, were killed and eight others five women and three men were seriously injured.

The target of the attack is believed to have been pro-government forces near the parliament building. However, just as in a similar attack last week on the presidential palace Villa Somalia the first such attack since August 2011, when anti-government forces withdrew from the majority of districts in the capital the mortars did not reach their intended target, and instead landed among the IDPs.

There were also mortar attacks on Villa Baidoa and Villa Somalia over the weekend. No civilian casualties were reported. Anti-government forces are reported to have instructed IDPs to move away from areas surrounding the presidential palaces as they intended to continue their attacks.

UNHCR notes that pro-government forces are implementing practices to reduce the impact of indirect fire on the civilian population and further notes that civilians were given advance notice of the recent military activity in Afgooye which allowed them to vacate the area safely and seek assistance in Mogadishu and other areas.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi, Kenya (Somalia Ops): Andreas Needham on mobile +254 733 120 931

  • In Nairobi (UNHCR regional hub): Vivian Tan on mobile: +254 735 337 608

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Somalia Emergency: Urgent Appeal

Widespread malnutrition among Somali refugees requires immediate action.

Donate to this crisis

Crisis in Horn of Africa

Tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing conflict and drought into Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

A Family of Somali Artists Continue to Create in Exile

During two decades of conflict and chaos in Somalia, Mohammed Ousman stayed in Mogadishu and taught art as others fled the country. But life became impossible after Al Shabaab militants killed his brother for continuing to practise art. Four of the man's nine children were also murdered. Mohammed closed his own "Picasso Art School" and married his brother's widow, in accordance with Somali custom. But without a job, the 57-year-old struggled to support two families and eventually this cost him his first family. Mohammed decided to leave, flying to Berbera in Somaliland in late 2011 and then crossing to Aw-Barre refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he joined his second wife and her five children. UNHCR transferred Mohammed and his family to Addis Ababa on protection grounds, and in the belief that he could make a living there from his art. But he's discovering that selling paintings and drawings can be tough - he relies on UNHCR support. The following images of the artist and his family were taken by UNHCR's Kisut Gebre Egziabher.

A Family of Somali Artists Continue to Create in Exile

Somalia's Hawa Aden Mohamed wins Nansen Refugee Award

Hawa Aden Mohamed, a former refugee whose visionary work has transformed the lives of thousands of displaced Somali women and girls, is the winner of the 2012 Nansen Refugee Award. Widely known as "Mama" Hawa, she is the founder and director of an ambitious education programme in Galkayo, Somalia, that helps women and girls secure their rights, develop vital skills and play a more active role in society. View a slideshow of Mama Hawa's work at the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development, which offers literacy courses and vocational training as well as food and other forms of humanitarian relief to internally displaced people [IDP].

Somalia's Hawa Aden Mohamed wins Nansen Refugee Award

Photo Essay: Dollo Ado, a Year After the Somalia Famine

In mid-2011, Dollo Ado was at the heart of a refugee crisis as a wave of Somalis facing violence and starvation at home trekked through the desert to seek safety in the small, remote border town in eastern Ethiopia. Many arrived exhausted, sick and emaciated, often carrying weak or dying children.

To deal with the mass influx, UNHCR and the Ethiopian government built three new refugee camps. The agency and its partners also set up critical nutrition programmes in the camps. Large-scale water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, combined with mass vaccinations and other public health measures, saved numerous lives.

One year on, the malnutrition rates among children have begun to stabilize. The number of new arrivals, although steady due to continued violence and poor rains, has dwindled and many people have moved from tents into semi-permanent housing. UNHCR's main focus is to improve lives in the camp by launching livelihood programmes and environmental projects for refugees and the host communities.

Today, the Dollo Ado area hosts five camps, with a total population of nearly 170,000 refugees. Several hundred new refugees arrive from Somalia every week. While the population of the newest camp, Buramino, is reaching 30,000, UNHCR and the government have agreed on the location for a sixth camp.

Photo Essay: Dollo Ado, a Year After the Somalia Famine

Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In MogadishuPlay video

Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In Mogadishu

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visits Mogadishu, expresses solidarity with Somali people on eve of Ramadan.
Somalia: Solutions For Somali RefugeesPlay video

Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.
Somalia: Saving LivesPlay video

Somalia: Saving Lives

Donor support for a specialized maternity-child clinic helps save the lives of displaced Somali mothers.