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Monday, March 15, 2010

Breath in Mogadishu Battle, More to Come

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

Date: 15 Mar 2010


NAIROBI, 15 March 2010 (IRIN) - Five days of fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have left residents without food, cut off from their homes and unable to bury their dead, civil society leaders in the city said.

"We cannot go to some of the worst-affected areas and for all we know people may be buried under the rubble of what used to be their homes," Asha Sha'ur, a civil society activist, told IRIN. The fighting had displaced hundreds of families, she added.

In many areas of the city, people were unable to access their homes or even bury their dead. The fighting had also cut off aid deliveries.

"What little assistance that used to come in is no longer there, so they [civilians] are on their own," Sha'ur added. "It is a tragedy but no one seems to care. Imagine people with small children unable to go out and buy food or milk."

Ali Sheikh Yassin, deputy chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Human Rights Organization (EHRO), told IRIN the fighting between government troops and insurgent which began on 9 March "had been the most intense since May 2009".

Local sources estimate that more than 100 people had died before relative calm returned to the city on 15 March. "I would say this was the worst [fighting]," Yassin told IRIN.

Some residents, he added, had ventured out of their homes on 15 March to assess the damage and bury their dead.

"There is a feeling among the population that this is not the end and worse is yet to come," he said. Both sides, he explained, were mobilizing, with tanks belonging to the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) dotting the city.

A medical source said the hospitals had been inundated. "We are barely coping," she told IRIN. "When you think there are no more, more are brought in."

On the move

The fighting, between AMISOM-backed government forces and the Islamist group Al-Shabab, broke out when Al-Shabab fighters attacked government positions in north Mogadishu, a local journalist told IRIN.

"By Friday [12 March], the fighting had spread to most parts of north Mogadishu. The Yaqshid, Karan, Abdiasis and Wardhigley districts were the hardest hit," he added.

By 15 March, hundreds of families were on the move, "taking advantage of the break in the shelling". According to the journalist, many were joining those in the Afgoye corridor - already home to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people - while others were heading to Balad, 30km north of Mogadishu.

While the death toll was more than 100, another 245 people were injured, the medical source said.

"These are the ones we can account for; there may be many more who are unaccounted for," she said. "I am sure that once we have access to the epicentre of the fighting the death toll will be much higher."

Most of the injured, she said, were children, citing the case of Salado Ali in Medina, Mogadishu's main hospital. Her six-year-old son and husband were injured when their home in the northern Karan district was hit by a shell.

"The doctors have removed the pieces from the boy's stomach," she told IRIN by telephone. "They tell me he is stable."

Salado, whose husband was in another wing of the hospital with a less serious injury, said: "I don't think there is anyone left in our neighbourhood." A selection of IRIN reports are posted on ReliefWeb. Find more IRIN news and analysis at http://www.irinnews.org

Une sélection d'articles d'IRIN sont publiés sur ReliefWeb. Trouvez d'autres articles et analyses d'IRIN sur http://www.irinnews.org

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. Refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use.

Cet article ne reflète pas nécessairement les vues des Nations Unies. Voir IRIN droits d'auteur pour les conditions d'utilisation.

The Rest @ IRIN

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Shimron Issachar
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