AU calls for urgent medical help in Somalia

By Guled Mohamed

MOGADISHU, June 16 (Reuters) - The African Union appealed for help in Somalia on Saturday saying it can no longer provide free medical care to hundreds of local patients who have flocked to a hospital run by peacekeepers in the capital Mogadishu.

Ambrose Oiko, the doctor in charge of operations at the hospital -- an old bullet-scarred house without doors or windows -- said his supplies were almost exhausted.

"We can no longer help these people," he told Reuters, pointing at dozens of women and children queuing for treatment.

"We have treated nearly 300 patients every day for the past week. We can no longer sustain them. We need urgent drugs. This is overwhelming us."

About 1,600 peacekeeping troops from Uganda are in Mogadishu on behalf of the AU to support the interim government, which is threatened by an Islamist insurgency.

The government is the 14th attempt at setting up centralised rule in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

On Saturday, the peacekeepers destroyed four tonnes of weapons seized by government forces and their Ethiopian military allies in sweeps of the gun-infested seaside city.

A roadside bomb killed two children in Mogadishu on Friday, just hours after four civilians died when suspected Islamists hurled a grenade into a crowd watching a foreign film in the southcentral town of Baidoa.

Coming after simultaneous attacks on three Ethiopian military positions in Mogadishu, the bombings were the latest in a wave of violence since a national peace conference due to start on Thursday was postponed for a second time.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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