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UNHCR concerned about situation of thousands of Somalis in Mogadishu


UNHCR concerned about situation of thousands of Somalis in Mogadishu

UNHCR expresses concern about the worsening situation for thousands of civilians in Somalia amid fresh fighting in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
12 March 2010 Also available in:
A group of women and children start out from Mogadishu after deciding to leave the capital to escape the current fighting.

GENEVA, March 12 (UNHCR) - UNHCR said Friday it was extremely worried about the worsening situation for civilians in Somalia, where fresh outbreaks of relentless and indiscriminate fighting are ravaging Mogadishu and other areas of the country.

"We are especially concerned about the safety and well-being of some 8,300 people who, without any means to get out of Mogadishu, remain displaced within the capital," a UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, told journalists in Geneva. "As the fighting rages on, aid agencies cannot access and assist these extremely vulnerable IDPs [internally displaced people]," he added.

The refugee agency estimates that more than 100,000 Somali civilians have been forced to flee their homes across the country since the beginning of this year.

The latest fighting between government forces and the Al-Shabaab militia is concentrated in Mogadishu's northern suburbs of Shangaani, Cabdulcasiis, Yaaqshiid and Kaaraan. Since February, 33,000 Somalis have been driven out of their homes in Mogadishu. Almost 14,600 of them fled to the Afgooye corridor, a stretch of road some 30 kilometres west of Mogadishu. There, they are jammed together in makeshift settlements which are home to more than 366,000 internally displaced people (IDPs). Thousands more have fled to other parts of the country.

Across the border in Kenya, meanwhile, nearly 10,000 new Somali refugees were registered over the first nine weeks of this year. UNHCR fears that the overcrowded Dadaab refugee complex in northern Kenya will soon see a significant increase in the number of new arrivals. The three camps at Dadaab currently host some 270,000 refugees.

Somalia remains one of the countries generating the highest number of displaced people and refugees in the world. There are more than 1.4 million IDPs in Somalia while over 560,000 Somalis live as refugees in neighbouring and nearby countries.