15 May 2009

Somalia: Renewed Heavy Fighting in Capital Affects Many

Nairobi — Aid agencies say a new surge in fighting in Somalia's war torn capital, Mogadishu, has left many casualties and forced thousands to flee.

In the northern part of Mogadishu, the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was forced to close an outpatient clinic in Yaqshid to ensure its medical staff won't be caught in the middle of cross fire. The area was deserted by their inhabitants fleeing heavy fighting. MSF will re-open this health facility as soon as there is minimum security to continue its medical activities.

In the outskirts of the capital, in just a week since Friday May 8, MSF medical teams have treated 112 for blast and gunshots wounds in Daynile Hospital. 47 of them were women and children under the age of 14.

"With so few medical facilities available in Somalia, it is crucial that people are able to access those that are still functioning", says Alfonso Laguna, MSF Head of Mission MSF in Somalia.

While recently people had started returning to Mogadishu, thousands of families have left the city again looking for a safer environment. They have settled in camps in Daynile and along the road to Afgooye, a town 30 km to the south west of the capital.

Many have left all their belongings at a critical period during the rainy season. Poor living conditions in these overcrowded settlements could become a significant health risk, leading to respiratory infections and epidemics.

MSF reminded all parties to the conflict in Somalia to respect all medical facilities, their personnel and sick and wounded patients.

During a week that has seen scores of civilians killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced by clashes between pro- and anti-government forces in Mogadishu, Amnesty International said that armed opposition and local clan militias in control of Kismayo have been carrying out amputations and unlawful killings.

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