News / Africa

Situation Critical for Thousands in Somalia

The International Committee of the Red Cross says hundreds of thousands of people who have fled fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu are in a critical situation.

A mass exodus of people from the Somali capital, Mogadishu has been going on since 2007. That is when fighting between government forces and insurgents intensified.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have settled in squalid makeshift camps on the road between Mogadishu and Afgooye, which is about 30 kilometers south of the capital.

ICRC spokeswoman, Nicole Englebrecht says the situation for the displaced is becoming more critical. She says people are still fleeing fighting in Mogadishu and this is swelling the ranks of the displaced and their needs.

"Just last month alone, 4,000 new people according to our estimations joined these displaced on that axis and they are barely able to meet their most urgent needs," she said. "So, the ICRC has just completed a distribution of food, together with our partner organization, the Somali Red Crescent Society to more than 55,000 people on the axis."

The ICRC says it has provided a two-month supply of beans, rice and oil. It says the most vulnerable people, especially the disabled and single mothers with children were given priority in its food distribution.

The Red Cross says people who have lost practically everything are coping through petty trade or by growing crops on small patches of land. They also receive some help from resident communities. But it notes this covers only their most urgent needs, making the displaced extremely vulnerable to malnutrition and disease.

The deputy head of ICRC operations for the Horn of Africa, Benjamin Wahren, says fighting in Mogadishu has intensified in recent days, claiming a high number of civilian casualties.

"During the last eight days, the number of people wounded in the fighting and who came to the two surgical hospitals supported by the ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society, the number of wounded doubled" said Wahren. "As you say it has calmed down a little. I think today effectively fewer people arrived. But the situation definitely is critical because during eight days there was almost constant fighting."

The ICRC says it has treated more than 200 patients with weapon-related injuries in its Medina and Keysaney hospitals since August 23rd. It adds this is more than twice the average number admitted in previous weeks.

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