UN: 20 000 fuel exodus from Somali capital

More than 20 000 people have fled fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu over the past two weeks, bringing the number of displaced since May to about 223 000, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

Local aid agencies are fast becoming overstretched to deal with the growing exodus, as the newly displaced join about 400 000 others around Mogadishu who fled previous waves of fighting, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said.

“We now estimate that about 223 000 people have fled Mogadishu since May 7, when al-Shabaab and Hesb-ul-Islam militia groups jointly launched attacks against government forces in several districts of the Somali capital,” said UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond.

“About 20 000 have fled in the last two weeks alone.”

“We are greatly concerned about the plight of the large number of internally displaced people [IDP] who have found refuge in the sweltering makeshift sites on the Afgooye Corridor, southwest of the capital, sheltering more than 400 000 IDPs from previous conflicts,” he told journalists.

Redmond said recent torrential rains and the lack of latrines had added to the health risks in the area, where adequate shelter, sanitation and clean drinking water were scarce.

Local aid agencies provide the bulk of relief aid on behalf of UN agencies.

The UN said on Monday that it was temporarily suspending its humanitarian work in Baidoa, south central Somalia, after its offices there were raided by the hardline al-Shabaab militia.—Sapa-AFP

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