Somalia: UNICEF urges safe access to help wounded children and women

7 December 2007

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today urged all sides to the current conflict raging in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to allow safe access for women and children across checkpoints so they can receive life-saving medical care.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today urged all sides to the current conflict raging in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to allow safe access for women and children across checkpoints so they can receive life-saving medical care.

UNICEF is deeply concerned and distressed that checkpoints and roadblocks are posing an additional challenge to wounded or sick children and women as they try to get medical assistance,” said the agency’s Representative to Somalia, Christian Balslev-Olesen.

In a press release, UNICEF said that it has heard reliable reports that children, adolescents, pregnant women and mothers – some of whom have sustained injuries by shells and stray bullets – are being turned back at checkpoints while trying to reach health posts.

Those who have not been allowed to cross the checkpoints include women requiring antenatal and post-natal care and many children urgently needing medical care for conditions such as diarrhoea, the agency reported.

“To be denied access to basic health services in such critical circumstances greatly compounds the distress of the children and women who are amongst those most heavily affected by the current conflict – fighting that has left many children killed, maimed, displaced and orphaned,” Mr. Balslev-Olesen noted.

Additionally, doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners are also prevented from reaching their workplaces to help those in need.

These checkpoints also hinder children from attending schools, which could provide shelter and serve as a safe space. Some 80 per cent of all Mogadishu schools have been closed due to the capital’s dangerous environment.

Due to the violence, an estimated 600,000 people have fled Mogadishu, Jennifer Pagonis of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said late last month.

The city is also now home to over 40,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), the agency reported.

 

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