Somalis in Mogadishu face humanitarian disaster
Mogadishu (Alshahid) – The endless heavy fighting between the Somalia government backed by AU troops and the rebel group Alshabab backed by al-Qaeda in the northern areas of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has trapped many residents in their homes, with some unable to bury their dead, civil society sources said on Tuesday 6 July.
The fighting entering its 6th day has made it impossible for humanitarian groups and those who could provide help to the affected families to reach casualties.
“Thousands of residents of Abdul-Aziz, Bondhere, Yaaqshid and Karan districts have been stuck in their homes for nearly 10 days, some even longer; in some cases, they are not even able to bury their dead or leave the house to get essential items,” said Ali Sheikh Yassin, an official of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization (EHRO).
“The vast majority of those trapped in the skirmishes are women, children and the elderly. They have little choice except to wait and hope that the violence subsides.”
The two rival insurgent groups Hizbul-Islam and Al-Shabab, which now control much of south and central Somalia, are battling the transition government under Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
Yassin said there were homes where no one knows “whether the residents are alive or dead; there is simply no way of knowing because no one is able to go there. We simply don’t know.”
Yassin called on the warring sides to stop the fighting or at least allow safe passage to those who can leave and those who want to leave.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, the fighting in and around Mogadishu has displaced 11,700 people since 14 June.
The UNHCR said recently that the number of Somalis fleeing the country has reduced an indicator that most of them are trapped in the country due to the increasing danger and cost of moving to safer places in neighbouring countries.
A civil society source, told IRIN that many of those trapped in the latest fighting “cannot afford to leave. They are either too poor, too weak or both,” adding that they wanted to be close to “what they know. They are too afraid to leave their homes.”
The fighting has gained intensity in the last week, “with a daily average of 300 artillery shells hitting the city”, he said.
On Monday sub-regional leaders of IGAD convened an emergency meeting which declared that the UN replaces the AU troops and increase the number of soldiers fighting for the government to 20,000 throughout Somalia country. They also called upon the International community to hasten intervention as “now is the time to save Somalia”- in the words of Kenya President Mwai Kibaki.