Somalia: Situation Report No. 30 - 01 Aug 2008

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 01 Aug 2008
Main developments

In Belet Weyne, Hiraan region, intense fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian forces has led to displacement as residents fled their homes in fear of more conflict. According to UNHCR's Population Movement Trucking (PMT), an estimated 60,000 to 75,000 people have been displaced from Belet Weyne and have moved to 'safe' villages within the town and to surrounding districts. At least 16 people were reportedly killed and some 10 others wounded in renewed clashes on 25 July as residential areas were hit by shells. Local elders are said to be negotiating for peace to avoid further bloodshed. In Baardheere, Gedo region, on 29 July clan-related fighting erupted in Shanqolow. Six people were reportedly killed and many others displaced after one group set fire to an entire village.

On 26 July, a United Nations District Polio Officer was shot several times as he tried to escape from an apparent abduction attempt in Diinsoor district, Bay region. He was found by herdsmen who rushed him to a clinic in Diinsoor. He was later evacuated to Nairobi for further treatment. Since January, 20 aid-related workers have been killed in Somalia while 18 have been abducted and 13 are still in captivity.

Reports indicate that more than 150 children have been killed or injured through indiscriminate shelling, bombings and crossfire in the past year. In a press statement issued on 31 July, Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative to Somalia, said, 'the current environment of conflict, displacement and insecurity in Southern and Central Somalia has a serious negative impact on children's and young people's long-term psychosocial welfare and health development.' During the reporting week alone, seven children died in the ongoing battles in Mogadishu - five as they were fleeing from school and two while they were playing football on a public pitch. UNICEF called on the parties involved in the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law, safeguard the rights of children, prioritise their welfare and safety, and seek solutions to increase humanitarian access.

Representatives of religious groups in Somalia, meeting in Mogadishu during the week, have condemned the killing and abduction of humanitarian workers. "We are totally against the killing of aid workers and call upon all Somali people to embrace peace," Sheikh Abdulkadir Somow, the spokesman of the Ahlu Suna Waljamaa, the largest religious group in the country, told IRIN on 31 July.

A human rights activist, Sudan Ali Ahmed, who was head of the Elman Human Rights group in Somalia, died on 29 July in Mogadishu following an illness. Elman Human Rights group has been advocating for the rights of Somalis for many years.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 180,000 children in Somalia are acutely malnourished, with 25,000 in a worse-off situation. Findings from 11 out of 17 surveys conducted recently by the Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) and partners reported rates above the emergency threshold of 15 percent while six reported very critical rates of approximately 20 percent. In response, UNICEF has scaled up its nutrition operation to reach more than 50,000 children under the age of five. The children's agency has just completed a second round of its blanket feeding program, which involves the distribution of UNIMIX-food supplement, rich with vitamins and minerals, to 54,000 under-five children in IDP camps along the Afgooye corridor and in Mogadishu.

In response to the large-scale displacement of people in and around Belet Weyne, the Somali Red Crescent Society is operating three health posts outside of the town. International Medical Corps is running four Out-Patient Departments on the outskirts of Belet Weyne. Cases of diarrhoea and conjunctivitis have been reported among children under five.

In the last two weeks, CARE distributed food aid to 90,366 people in Hiraan region, 36,390 people in Middle Shabelle and 15,384 people in Galgaduud region.

Puntland

During the reporting week, there were two security incidents in Gaalkacyo. A remote-controlled bomb went off in northern Gaalkacyo on 25 July. According to sources, the bomb was placed inside an empty water tanker. Some houses and cars near the scene were damaged, but no fatalities were reported. On the same day, a hand grenade was hurled near a school close to the 'green line' between north and south Gaalkacyo damaging the perimeter wall of the school.

There was a fire outbreak on 25 July in Buulo Absame camp in Bossaso that destroyed about 27 household IDP shelters including personal effects. On 26 July, another fire gutted one shelter. The fire was contained thanks to the efforts of residents. The causes of the fires were not immediately established but heavy winds and flammable building materials in Bossaso have been a major cause of similar fires.

Further Information in Somali or English, contact: Rita Maingi on 254 734 800 120 - maingi@un.org

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