9 September 2010

Somalia: Civilian Deaths at 'Alarming' Levels

Photo: Siegfried Modola/IRIN
African Union peacekeepers on patrol in Mogadishu:

Nairobi — Clashes between Somali government forces and Al-Shabab fighters in Mogadishu have reached "alarming levels", with at least 250 people killed and 400 wounded in the past two weeks, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned.

At least 68,000 civilians have fled the Somali capital this year and sought refuge within East Africa. Of these, 37,000 have been registered as refugees in Kenya, including 6,500 who arrived in August.

"Thousands of others are stuck inside Somalia and in areas where humanitarian agencies have no access," said Roberta Russo, UNHCR spokeswoman for Somalia. "We keep on appealing to all fighting parties to respect neutrality of humanitarian assistance and allow us to bring relief to desperate Somali civilians, who are the only real victims of this conflict."

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Medina and Keysaney hospitals have treated over 200 patients with weapon-related injuries since 23 August - more than twice the average admitted in previous weeks. The fighting has been condemned by Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and the Organization of the Islamic Conference Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who urged warring parties to cease fire during the last days of Ramadan.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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