96,000 displaced in fighting in Somalia: UNJune 6th, 2009 - 12:57 am ICT by IANS
Nairobi, June 5 (Xinhua) Around 96,000 people have been displaced in the latest fighting between Somali security forces and Islamist militants who are waging a bloody battle to oust the government in Mogadishu, the UN said in a statement Friday.
The fighting started after the Islamist insurgents attacked government installations in Mogadishu last month in a major push to overthrow the government.
In response, Somali troops launched a major counter offensive to thwart the rebel attack.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said that the number of displaced people is growing rapidly in Mogadishu as the fighting rages in the restive capital.
The number of people uprooted from their homes in Mogadishu has now topped 96,000, it said.
An estimated 35,000 people are still in the city, looking for shelter in more secure areas, while another 35,000 have fled to other parts of Somalia, it added.
Some of the displaced are also making their way towards neighbouring countries, it said.
The intense fighting between the government troops and the opposition Al-Shabaab and Hezbul Islam groups erupted on May 8 in Mogadishu.
UNHCR said some 26,000 people have managed to flee to makeshift sites in the Afgooye region, about 30 km southeast of Mogadishu, joining the 400,000 displaced people already living there.
The UNHCR’s local partner organisations said that some 2,000 people are trying to illegally enter into Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia to escape the fighting.
The UN Security Council, the African Union and the neighbouring countries have condemned the resurgence of violence in Somalia and called for the end to all hostilities.
In a unanimous resolution, the 15-member UN Security Council recently extended the tenure of African Union peacekeeping forces in Somalia until Jan 31, 2010.
Since the beginning of the year, some 32,000 people have crossed into Kenya, bringing the total number of Somali refugees in the country to more than 297,000.
“We continue to rush aid to the displaced in Somalia. UNHCR’s local partners have just completed the first phase of an aid distribution south of Mogadishu,” the statement said.
“Deliveries of UNHCR aid items began May 26, and 12,600 people received plastic sheeting, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, blankets, jerry cans and sanitary pads in Kah Shiqal area of southern Mogadishu,” it said.
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Tags: bloody battle, fighting rages, government installations, government troops, hostilities, insurgents, islamist militants, mogadishu, nairobi, neighbouring countries, peacekeeping forces, rebel attack, refugee agency, resurgence, security forces, somali refugees, un security council, unanimous resolution, unhcr, xinhua