SOMALIA: Violence forcing residents out of the capital again

Monday, July 9, 2007
Residents of Mogadishu, who had returned to the Somali capital after fleeing recent fighting between government forces and insurgents, are leaving the city again amid continuing violence, local sources said.

"There has been an increase in the number of displaced who have returned to the camp in the past 30 days," said Hawa Abdi, a doctor, whose 26-hectare compound, 20km south of Mogadishu, is home to thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

"There were about 12,000 people sheltering in the compound in May, but there are now double this figure," she told IRIN on 4 July.

"The property next to mine is now being turned into an IDP camp and as I am speaking to you, I can see a new family putting up a temporary shelter," Abdi said. "In May, people had been returning to Mogadishu but in June we saw people coming [instead] to the camp."

An estimated 1,000 families returned to the area in June alone, she said.
Despite the violence, at least 123,000 of the 400,000 people who fled Mogadishu between February and June have returned to the city, according to UN estimates. Many are from regions close to Mogadishu, such as Lower and Middle Shabelle.

Prime Minister plays down violence

But speaking in the Ghanaian capital of Accra on 3 July, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi downplayed suggestions that daily violence in Mogadishu and other areas was so serious that it might even threaten a planned national reconciliation conference in mid-July.

"I am optimistic security forces will be able to secure the capital city for the reconciliation conference," he told Reuters.

Aid workers said insecurity and violence had limited the population’s ability to survive, restricted humanitarian operations and led to increases of between 50 and 100 percent in the prices of basic necessities such as transport, water, food and non-food items.

In a situation report issued on 29 June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said despite a curfew in the city, grenade and bomb attacks as well as assassinations had continued.

According to OCHA, 16 explosions went off in the first two nights of the curfew and on 26 June, a roadside bomb in Bakara market killed five women. The next day, two Ethiopian soldiers were killed as a military convoy hit a roadside bomb.

Local residents said many people had been caught up in daily violence. "When there is an explosion, security forces respond by firing indiscriminately and arresting anyone they can find," a source said.

Source: IRIN
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