Nearly one quarter of Somalis fleeing Mogadishu violence have returned – UN

Nearly one quarter of Somalis fleeing Mogadishu violence have returned – UN

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The United Nations refugee agency today said that nearly a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of people who fled deadly fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu since this February have gone back but insecurity is preventing more returns.

Of the approximately 391,000 people who left the city, up to 90,000 have returned so far, primarily from the Shabelle and Bay regions in the war-torn country’s south and centre.

“Living conditions in Mogadishu however remain difficult for returnees as for those who stayed in the capital throughout the conflict,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva.

Garbage which has not been collected is piling up in many of Mogadishu’s neighbourhoods, and numerous schools have remained shuttered as well.

Additionally, people have complained that they have lost their livelihoods. Roadside traders, for example, have complained that their businesses have been torn down by authorities who say that the traders’ structures pose a security threat.

UNHCR’s partners describe the returns to the capital as a trickle, with most of those coming back to Mogadishu mainly going to areas such as Waberi, Xamar, Jab-Jab and Medina districts which were not affected by rounds of hostilities between insurgents and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) backed by Ethiopian troops.

Although some have been trickling back to Mogadishu, many others are reluctant to return due to the security situation. Others who were previously displaced in the capital and living in public buildings for over a decade cannot return as their previous abodes have been taken over by the Government.

Some of those who have expressed a desire to go back to Mogadishu cannot afford the transportation. Others have been further displaced since the Shabelle river has overflowed, destroying homes and crops.

Earlier this week, a team comprising staff from UNHCR, the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Security visited Mogadishu to assess options for distributing more aid in the city.

The team met with the TFG, civil society and other partners on the ground to determine methods on reaching 300,000 people as a one-time package to assist the needy.

OCHA announced yesterday that aid has been distributed to more than 90 per cent of those who fled the capital, but voiced particular concern over the prevalence of acute watery diarrhoea, which has killed nearly a thousand people, and the fact that some areas affected by the outbreak remain inaccessible.

This April, UNCHR provided supplies to 50,000 displaced Somalis taking refuge in Afgoye and other areas surrounding Mogadishu. In concert with other organizations, the shelter and basic household supplies needs for almost 70 per cent of those who fled the capital have been met.