Somalia

Somalia: Situation Report - 26 Feb 2007

Main Developments

Insecurity continues in Mogadishu. The airport was shelled again last week (22 February), as was Villa Somalia, while in what may be politically motivated killings, on 21 February unidentified gunmen shot dead the government-appointed district commissioner of Yaqshid district of Mogadishu and the deputy district commissioner of Wadajir district. Targeted attacks against TFG/Ethiopian troops take place almost nightly, following which Ethiopian troops retaliate by firing upon the locations from which the attacks were launched. Civilians are often caught in the crossfire, particularly IDPs living in settlements close to military or government buildings. In an effort to protect themselves and their neighbourhoods, elders in some Mogadishu neighbourhoods have begun to form vigilante squads. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of people - some of them already IDPs - are reported to be fleeing Mogadishu (see Displacement below).

ICRC reported on 25 February that since the beginning of the year, more than 430 war-wounded have been admitted to two of Mogadishu's three hospitals. In February alone, Keysaney hospital, run by the Somali Red Crescent Society, and Medina hospital have admitted more than 200 wounded, including at least 30 women and 24 children. The exact death toll, estimated at several dozen, remains unconfirmed.

The first case of piracy in nine months was reported on 25 February, when a WFP-contracted ship was hijacked as it was returning from Puntland to Mombasa. The ship had just delivered 900 mt of food to Puntland and was empty when attacked. It is not yet confirmed whether any of the 12 crew members aboard (from Sri Lanka and Kenya) were injured in the attack but they are reportedly still being held by the hijackers.

Clan fighting that has been taking place in Daror, Ethiopia (near the border with northwest Somalia) over the last two weeks has resulted in dozens of deaths and a number of wounded. The conflict is creating tension in Somaliland as the two sub-clans involved live in the Hargeisa area, and there are fears that the fighting may spill over into Hargeisa. Mediators from the Somaliland parliament and clan elders are said to be attempting to negotiate a settlement between the two clans. The fighting is reportedly related to a dispute over grazing land and political representation of Daror in local administration, but recent revenge killings in which 5 people died led to build-up of clan militia and helped to spark the fighting.

Displacement

Field and media reports have continued over the last several days of increasing numbers of people fleeing conflict and insecurity in Mogadishu. As of 26 February, it is estimated that at least 10,000 people have fled the violence in Mogadishu, with at least 4,500 of these having gone to Marka and Afgoye (Lower Shabelle) and at least 2,000 to Baidoa (Bay). The rest have moved to Hargeisa (Somaliland), Bossaso and Galkayo (Puntland), and Belet Hawa (Gedo). Some people who were already IDPs within Mogadishu are said to be moving between settlements in the city, depending on which areas are perceived to be less vulnerable to attack. Other IDPs, such as those moving to Baidoa, are returning to their original place of origin. Last week, Ethiopian troops reportedly evicted IDPs who were occupying the former Digfir hospital in Mogadishu. Between 120-300 IDP families are said to have been displaced by the move.

Access and Response

Despite a lack of clarity on the Kenya-Somali border issue, 40 WFP-contracted trucks that crossed into Somalia on 13 February to distribute food in Gedo are now crossing back into Kenya at El Wak for reloading, with no problems reported.

While exact numbers of IDPs having so far arrived in south Galkayo from Mogadishu are still being confirmed, the influx is said to be growing and is expected to increase in the coming weeks. UNICEF is preparing to respond to the needs of the most recently arrived IDPs through the provision of NFIs (blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheets). Movement into Galkayo from Mogadishu and elsewhere will be monitored daily in the coming weeks (with cooperation between LNGOs, UNHCR and OCHA) and response stepped up as needed. Meanwhile, as part of the ongoing response to the existing IDP population in Galkayo, 3,000 families in the south are this week scheduled to receive NFIs provided by UNICEF and UNHCR and distributed by Islamic Relief.

On 22 February, a serious fire broke out on the east bank of Bardera town (Gedo), apparently a kitchen fire that spread rapidly to neighbouring houses due to high winds and the congestion of the area. Two children are said to have died. An undetermined number of houses were destroyed, but local authorities and agencies in the area have estimated that 675 families/4,050 individuals have been displaced, and a multiagency response targeting these families is underway. UNICEF, acting as coordinating agency, sent 500 temporary family tents on 24 February and, with partner SRCS, is sending water and sanitation material tomorrow to ensure supply of clean water. UNICEF will also support local authorities to ensure rapid resumption of the school that is now hosting some of the affected families. WFP will provide a two-month family ration (6 persons per family) of approximately 167 MT to 675 HH. MSF-S has sent a doctor and a logistician, together with medical kits to treat burning and asphyxia, while NCA has committed to deliver 1,400 IDP kits for distribution by LNGO SADO. Each kit is comprised of blankets, cooking utensils, ITNs, soap, plastic sheeting, jerry can and other items. LNGO HIRDA is also distributing relief.

Following concerns over a rising number of deaths around Baidoa, an inter-agency rapid assessment mission visited the area on 20-21 February. The preliminary findings of the mission indicate that malaria is the most common disease affecting those individuals/families visited. The team recommended, among other things, that due to a lack of health services in the villages visited, anti-malarial treatment should be administered in all the affected areas and ITNs distributed in preparation for the upcoming Gu rains in April.

Despite unrest in south/central Somalia, the polio vaccination campaign - supported by WHO and UNICEF with partners - is continuing, targeting Benadir region and Lower Shabelle during the last week. Meanwhile, two three-day seminars on HIV/AIDS awareness were conducted in Mogadishu in mid-February, through collaboration between local NGOs, UNICEF and the Global Fund. Nearly 100 health workers and youth group participants took part in the HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention training.

Reports detailing response activities by cluster (Who does What Where) are available on the OCHA website at http://ochaonline2.un.org/Default.aspx?tabid=5066

For further information, contact:

Molly McCloskey or Amanda di Lorenzo at +254 (20) 375 4150-5

mccloskeym@un.org, dilorenzoa@un.org

Disclaimer

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.