The worst fighting this year since April erupted in Mogadishu during the last weekend of October. The fighting, combined with house-to-house searches, large-scale detentions and statements by officials ordering inhabitants to leave certain districts, forced 90,000 (1) people to flee Mogadishu or move within the city during a three-day period. Almost as many people left the city in three days as in the past four months (roughly 25,000 have been exiting Mogadishu every month since June), with the majority going to the Shabelle regions. As a result of the indiscriminate use of force by all parties, some 130 people have been admitted to hospitals for weapons-related injuries.
Including the new movements in October, some 450,000 people have been displaced in Somalia since the beginning of the year. Together with the estimated 400,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) prior to 2007, the overall estimate of IDPs in Somalia reaches roughly 850,000.
Majority of the people fled to the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions. The movement into the Shabelles compounds a humanitarian situation already severely compromised due to conflict, poor harvest, trade disruptions and other shocks. IDPs have fled from a war zone to a humanitarian crisis zone. Of the 1.5 million in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia, 600,000 are in the Shabelles, including 38,000 of the 83,000 acutely malnourished children under five of this figure 10,000 are severely malnourished and, without appropriate care, at the risk of death, reported by Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU).
Majority of the people that fled Mogadishu went to Lower Shabelle (nearly 50,000), according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) through their Population Movement Tracking (PMT) system. In addition to the previously displaced people that arrived since April, there are about 160,000 displaced people in need of humanitarian life saving assistance. Humanitarian agencies are combining efforts to effectively address the basic needs of the vulnerable. Partners working on water, sanitation and hygiene increased their emergency operations late October through water trucking and latrine constructions. World Food Programme distributed food assistance for 110,000 people. Agencies in education agreed to implement a programme to build 30 new schools along the Afgooye-Mogadishu road. A community mobilisation exercise, student registrations, teacher's identification and tents installations have started.
With the killing of the acting manager of Shabelle Media on 19 October a total of eight journalists have been assasinated this year. Somalia is the second most dangerous country in the world for reporters, after Iraq. The killing triggered a public outcry from a number of international and national human rights groups on the continuous harassment of reporters, closure of media houses and killings. Furthermore, the editor of a newspaper (Ayaamaha) based in Mogadishu was arrested for one day, with no reason given for his arrest. Radio Garowe in Puntland was briefly closed and three journalists arrested.
Since 15 October, an estimated 9,000 families fled their homes in Lasanod, the regional capital of Sool when Somaliland forces took control of Lasanod, from Puntland. A majority settled either within Sool or in the neighbouring south-eastern districts. Others fled to Garowe and even as far as Bossaso and Galkayo. Between 25,000 - 30,000 vulnerable displaced people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Further technical assessments are being conducted to determine the needs of the vulnerable of water, shelter, food and medical care. Successful meetings on humanitarian access were held between the Humanitarian/Resident Coordinator (HC/RC) and the presidents of Somaliland and Puntland in both Hargeisa and Garowe. To date, Non Food Items (NFIs) including mosquito nets, kitchen utensils and sleeping mats distributions for an estimated 9,000 displaced people are ongoing. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and other responses will be starting soon.
Responses by humanitarian agencies to the crisis situations are being challenged by several issues. First of all, in October there were multiple crisis situations: the new influx of displaced people to Afgooye settlements, the new displacement of people in Sool region as well as preparations for eventual floods, stretching the capacity of the agencies on the ground. Furthermore, agencies are being challenged in accessing populations by the general deteriorating security situation, administrative delays, being targeted for assets and in general being perceived as not supporting the government.
(1) Based on more than 60 reports from eight local NGOs compiled by UNHCR.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.