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Escalating violence displaces Somalis

Briefing notes

Escalating violence displaces Somalis

26 May 2009

The number of Somalis fleeing the latest escalation of fighting in and around Mogadishu has surpassed 67,000. Intense fighting between the government and opposition forces erupted in several north-west areas of Mogadishu on 8 May.

Most of displaced are heading towards the Afgooye corridor, south-west of Mogadishu, where a number of large makeshifts camps have mushroomed over the past two years. These sites already host an estimated 400,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).

Those displaced who are unable to make the 30-km journey have sought refuge in south-western parts of Mogadishu that have not yet been overrun by fighting.

The deteriorating security situation has sharply reduced deliveries of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the displaced in and around Mogadishu. Local agencies that have been providing a lifeline to the IDPs are facing growing security problems as they try to help the needy.

In order to meet the most urgent needs for shelter and basic aid in this unfolding emergency, we are starting today the distribution of aid for some 50,000 people in Agfooye corridor through our local partners in Somalia. Today's distribution will include cooking sets, plastic sheeting, blankets and mats.

Meanwhile, the number of Somali refugees fleeing to the neighbouring countries continues to rise.

Somalia is one of the world's biggest refugee producing countries. UNHCR provides protection and assistance to some half a million Somali refugees in nearby countries, including Kenya (292,194), Yemen (142,394), Ethiopia (40,439), Uganda (8,889) Djibouti (8,741), Eritrea (4,636) and Tanzania (1,527). We are also coordinating protection and shelter activities for the 1.3 million displaced in Somalia.