The United Nations is stepping up its efforts to help Somalis forced to flee their homes due to the violence engulfing the Horn of Africa nation, where security continues to deteriorate.
Nearly 40,000 people have fled the capital Mogadishu in recent weeks, bringing the total number of those displaced by the ongoing fighting since the end of last October to over 294,000, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
Some 1,600 internally displaced persons (IDPs) who left their homes in the 1990s have been given 24 hours to vacate a compound of the Mogadishu polytechnical college where they have been living, but have not been provided with an alternative place to settle.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners have supplied monthly food rations to nearly 200,000 people along the corridor between Mogadishu and the near-by town of Afgooye, where many people have fled.
The agency’s programme in the capital is now fully operational, providing 50,000 meals a day through its 10 kitchens to vulnerable people trapped in Mogadishu.
Clashes between the Ethiopian and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces on one side and anti-Government elements on the other – both in Mogadishu and in other regions of the country – are contributing to a worsening of the security condition.
In the capital, fighting erupted in areas where Ethiopian troops were conducting a house-to-house weapons search, while elsewhere, more than one dozen civilians lost their lives when a security operation was held in an area where thousands of IDPs sought refuge.
The UN is particularly concerned about the rising number of incidents targeting humanitarian organizations, such as the kidnappings of staff, invasions and looting of non-governmental organization (NGO) facilities and warehouses.
On his recent two-day mission to the Puntland region, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia has stressed that safety guarantees are crucial for humanitarian workers, underscoring the key role of local authorities and communities in ensuring their safety.
Last month, the Security Council called on all sides in Somalia to use peaceful means to consolidate peace in the country. In a statement, the 15-member body urged “all Somali parties to reject violence and… to enter into substantial dialogue aimed at achieving a full and all-inclusive national reconciliation.”