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UN Says Casualties Rising In Mogadishu

The World Health Organization reports at least 1,400 people have been wounded in fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu between March 20 and May 24. WHO says escalating fighting between government forces and Islamic militants is taking a heavy toll in casualties and in the number of displacements.

The World Health Organization says Mogadishu's three main hospitals are filling up with war wounded. It says about one-quarter of the 1,400 casualties are children under age five. It says it is of great concern that so many of the war wounded are children.

WHO reports 31 people have died. And, it notes women comprise more than one-third of the patients in one of the hospitals.

In addition to these casualties, WHO spokesman, Paul Garwood, says there has been an increase in cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhea in the past week in several parts of the country. "In one hospital, just in the past week, we have seen 132 cases of cholera being reported, 80 percent of those being children," he said. "And, that is a 27 percent increase on the previous week. So we see the ongoing conflict is having a major impact on the delivery of health care. And, also in terms of inflicting weapons-related injuries upon civilians."

Garwood says WHO and its health partners are monitoring the situation. He says they are looking to see how they can control outbreaks of cholera and acute watery diarrhea and they are providing the victims with medicines.

He says many committed local agencies are operating under very dangerous and difficult circumstances. On top of that, they are operating with little money.

He says WHO has received less than one third of the $16 million the agency needs to carry out its humanitarian programs.

The UN refugee agency reports an estimated 17,000 people have been displaced from Mogadishu since April 1. The UNHCR says more than 10,000 have moved to relatively calmer parts of the city, while nearly 7,000 have fled out of the capital.