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UNHCR condemns killings and displacement of civilians in Mogadishu

Briefing notes

UNHCR condemns killings and displacement of civilians in Mogadishu

4 February 2011

At least 15 people were killed and some 50 injured on Monday during clashes among Transitional Federal Government (TFG) security forces close to Banadir Hospital in south west Mogadishu. We are appalled by the loss of civilian lives and the complete disregard shown for their safety.

This was the worst incident in Mogadishu so far this year, although sadly the Somali capital is no stranger to indiscriminate violence. Last year hundreds of Somalis were killed. According to available UN figures, at least 7,600 people reported weapons-related injuries in Mogadishu - an average of more than 20 wounded a day, and making this the worst year in a decade for civilian casualties. One in five of those injured was a child. The Somali capital is without doubt one of the most deadly cities anywhere.

For the hundreds of thousands of people who make up Mogadishu's civilian population, the situation is intolerable with violations of basic human rights occurring on a daily basis. UNHCR has long advocated that the various warring parties should do more to protect the civilian population. We repeat this today. UNHCR, as part of the UN humanitarian community in Somalia, again and in the strongest of terms urges all armed groups and forces in the capital to make the protection of civilians a top priority. We welcome the initiative of the TFG Ministry of Defence to launch an investigation into this latest incident and look forward to seeing its results. Those responsible should not be allowed to evade justice.

An estimated 4,200 Somalis have been forced to flee their homes in Mogadishu since the start of January. Of them, some 2,600 left the city while others sought refuge in quieter neighbourhoods. We estimate that 1.5 million Somalis are displaced inside the country - many in areas inaccessible to humanitarian workers. More than 650,000 are living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Somalia remains one of the worst and most alarming humanitarian crises that UNHCR faces, generating the largest number of refugees and displaced in the world after Iraq and Afghanistan.