Hostilities escalated in Gedo region, Jubaland State, resulting in largescale displacement of civilians mainly from Belet Xaawo town and the nearby Belet Amin Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements since February. As of 5 March, an estimated 56,000 people (9,000 households) have been displaced from their homes according to the Regional Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (R-ICCG) in Gedo.
Humanitarian partners report that some of the IDPs have moved to villages outside Belet Xaawo town, Doolow, Luuq or into the surrounding rural areas. While some found transport, others went by foot to avoid restrictions on movements along the main roads reportedly imposed by armed actors in the area. On 3 March, five civilians were reportedly killed, 10 others injured, and more than ten houses burnt. Since the clashes on 3 March, the situation has calmed, though the possibility of further clashes remains.
Belet Xaawo is one of biggest towns in Gedo region. It is strategically located on the Somali- Kenya border. Movement of goods and persons doing business between the two countries has spurred the growth of the town in recent years, which have been affected by closure of the border. Authorities estimate that the current population of Belet Xaawo is around 120,000 people (20,000 households) together with an estimated 18,000 IDPs (3,000 displaced households).
HUMANITARIAN IMPACT AND NEEDS
The new IDPs are an addition to 207,000 displaced people living in Gedo region. On 3 March, the regional Education Cluster reported that three schools had closed, disrupting classes for over 1,540 students. Another 2,000 students who go to school in Mandera, Kenya, can no longer attend class because of the border closure.
Humanitarian partners have been able to locate areas to where most of the IDPs were displaced. According to the RICCG, these areas include Luuq (100 households), Doolow (600), areas within Belet Xaawo town and surrounding villages (5,320). The R-ICCG estimates that about 3,000 households have been displaced to other locations including areas controlled by non-state actors that are difficult to access.
Humanitarian partners in the state are planning a rapid assessment of needs among the IDPs. OCHA is coordinating the planned assessment with regional partners and authorities. Preliminary indications are that the IDPs need shelter, NFIs, WASH supplies, food and health assistance and partners are already planning a response. Partners are also concerned about the vulnerability of the general population in Belet Xaawo should the tensions continue.
On 3 March, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr. Adam Abdelmoula, called on the parties involved to minimise harm to civilians and damage to schools, health centers and homes. He urged the parties to safeguard the movement of civilians out of conflict areas in safety and dignity so that they may have unobstructed access to humanitarian protection and assistance.
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