John Holmes, the UN's top humanitarian official, has called on all parties
in the Somali conflict to protect civilians amid an increasing trend of
indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force against the general
population in contravention of international humanitarian law.
appear to have little regard for the safety of civilians in Mogadishu,
where residents have been traumatised by years of violence,” he said in
a statement issued on 24 April.
Holmes was particularly
concerned about the fighting in Mogadishu on 19 and 20 April, when more
than 100 people were killed and 200 injured.
Heavy artillery and tanks were used in residential areas, reportedly one of the reasons for the high civilian casualties.
Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Coordinator also "strongly condemned the brutal killing" of some 21
people in the al-Hidaya Mosque in Heliwaa district of north Mogadishu
on 19 April. Up to 50 children aged between nine and 14 were also
"We don’t know where our children are and what
condition they are in," Abdiqani Mohamed, a parent of a 14-year-old
student taken from the mosque, allegedly by Ethiopian troops, told IRIN
on 24 April. "We are very worried for their safety and wellbeing," he
He said the children had been in school at the mosque
when soldiers entered and took the children. "They were not armed and
posed no threat to anyone. I don’t know why anyone would want to do
this. We are appealing to be told where our children are."
a statement issued on 23 April, Amnesty International called on the
Ethiopian military to release the children: “The safety and welfare of
the children, some as young as nine years old, must be paramount for
A spokesman for the Ethiopian government denied the involvement of Ethiopian troops in the killings, it added.
called on the UN Security Council to "take steps to end impunity across
Somalia by launching an International Commission of Inquiry, or similar
mechanism, to investigate human rights violations committed during the
latest violence is threatening plans for reconciliation talks between
the interim government and the opposition. Ahmed Abdullahi, a spokesman
for the Asmara-based Alliance for Re-liberation of Somalia, better
known as the Alliance, told IRIN it had suspended any talks with the
government through the UN.
"We cannot hold talks while our people are being massacred and the world watches with total indifference," he said.
representatives met the UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould
Abdalla, in neighbouring Djibouti, and made clear there were a number
of obstacles to possible dialogue at this point.
the UN, some 750,000 of Mogadishu’s residents have already fled the
city over the past year, and continue leaving at an average rate of
20,000 each month.
Holmes said the violence had hindered the
delivery of assistance to those who remain in the city as well as those
who sought safety outside.
The UN estimates that some 2.5
million people in Somalia are in need of humanitarian assistance or
livelihood support, due to a combination of insecurity, drought and