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Displaced Somalis Living in 'Subhuman' Conditions, says UN Expert

A U.N.-appointed expert on human rights says displaced people in Somalia are forced to live in conditions that can only be described as subhuman.

Ghanim Alnajjar came to Nairobi after completing an 11-day mission to Somalia to assess the human rights situation in the country.

Mr. Alnajjar says he was especially shocked by the condition of the 320,000 internally displaced people (IDP) living in Somalia.

"The conditions there are subhuman," he said, "the worst and appalling conditions. I do not think any human being will accept the continuation of the miserable situation that the internally displaced people are living under."

Mr. Alnajjar described conditions in a camp near Bosasso, capital of the northeastern breakaway Puntland region.

"You have a hut of two-by-two [meters], which the family reside in. And you have no toilets," he noted. "There [is no] running water and no education. They are open to attack and harassment. They are not given sufficient protection. I have not seen a miserable situation in this magnitude in any part of the world."

Somalia has been in chaos for years and it this chaos that has caused thousands of Somalis to flee their homes.

The country has been without a central government since President Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. It is ruled by competing warlords and fighting is continuing, despite the installation of a transitional national government last year in the capital Mogadishu.

Mr. Alnajjar is a professor of political science at the University of Kuwait. This is his second visit to Somalia since he was appointed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan last year.