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Security Problems Keep Aid Groups Out of Somali Capital


Aid groups say the citizens Mogadishu are in desperate need of medical assistance, food and water, but security problems in the war torn Somali capital city keep vital services away.

NGO's such as Muslim Aid, Islamic Relief and the World Food Program are struggling to to meet the health needs of Mogadishu residents. But a lack of security is preventing them from getting into many parts of the city.

Over the past 17 years, the militias in the Somali capital have gone from using AK47’s to firing mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and truck-mounted anti-aircraft missiles. They are often fired straight into residential areas.

Thousands of civilians have fled the capital, and thousands more are trapped in their homes. Ader Khalif is one of them. Violence often happens right outside her door. She says no one ventures outside when the wave of violence starts.

Casualties continue to mount

The staff of Medina Hospital in Mogadishu is stretched to the limit. Dr. Abdi Mohammed Elmi head of surgery and operations at the hospital says "beds are always full therefore tents have to be set up outside the hospital."

Common casualties include head and abdominal injuries and the loss of limbs. Almost all of the injured are victims of propelled grenades and missiles. Many of the dead are children, the doctor explained.

There is only one ambulance service in Mogadishu and it is free. It’s owned by Dr. Abdiqadir Abdirahman Aden.

He says his ambulances have provided emergency service to [hundreds of] casualties since December. But the services oftentimes are interrupted because warring sides stop the ambulances to search them.

According to Dr. Aden the clashing militias are unfamiliar with ambulances and often mistake them for vehicles belonging to the enemy. Sometimes, the checks can take hours. It’s time consuming and ambulances arrive late to the hospital.

Children are the victims

Children like Elias Nur who recently lost their parents in Somalia are the ones who are hurting the most.

He turned to drugs to forget his misery. He says his father went to seek refuge in Saudi Arabia but died while travelling past the coast of Yemen. His mother has abandoned him to marry another man.

As far as schools are concerned they have almost completely shut down. What is available for most of the youth in Somalia is mainly religious education.

With the chaos, violence, rising prices of food and fuel, the most vulnerable – those most in need – are hit the hardest.

Somalia is the most difficult place in the world for humanitarian agencies to work. Still humanitarian agencies like Doctors Without Borders and UNHCR are continuing their efforts to help.

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