SOMALIA: Puntland warns of looming humanitarian crisis

Friday, October 26, 2007

Somalia's northeastern self-declared autonomous region of Puntland has appealed for assistance for hundreds of displaced families from Sool region, which was overrun by forces loyal to the self-declared republic of Somaliland on 15 October.

"We are issuing this appeal to assist the displaced from Sool who are scattered around Puntland," said Abdullahi Abdirahman, the head of Puntland Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA).

"We would like to alert our humanitarian partners of a developing situation before it becomes a crisis," he added, noting that HADMA had received reports of diaorrhea outbreaks among some displaced children.

According to a local journalist, the families were scattered in many parts of Puntland, with some reaching Bosasso, the Puntland commercial capital.

Abdirahman said a task force had been set up to monitor the situation of the internally displaced persons and to come up with exact figures. "Teams have been dispatched to all areas that have reported displaced from Sool and we should be able to come up with a better picture of the numbers involved."

Preliminary indications, he added, showed the displaced population was in urgent need of food, shelter, clean water and medicines.

Puntland and Somaliland have both laid claim to the disputed Sool region and the neighbouring Sanag region.

Tension between the two sides increased after the fall of Las Anod, the regional capital, to the Somaliland forces, prompting an estimated 20,000 people to flee their homes.

Source: IRIN