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AAI Prepares To Do An Assessment Of Somalia's Worsening Humanitarian Crisis
Date: 31 May 2006
The mainly Sunni Muslim population, which is in excess of 8 million people, lives in principally arid, desert conditions. The temperatures are moderate in the north of the country and very hot in the south, while the east of the country suffers from frequent dust storms in summer. Rainfall in the south is irregular, but often results in flooding during the monsoon season. The country consists of an undulating plateau rising to hills in the north. Less than two percent of the land is arable.
The country has largely unexploited reserves of uranium, iron ore, tin, gypsum, bauxite, copper, salt, natural gas and oil. None of these resources have been exported in large quantities due to the current security situation in the country.
Somalia's economy is driven by its many and varied political divisions. The north western area has declared its independence as the "Republic of Somaliland". The north eastern region of Puntland is a semi-autonomous state. The remaining southern portion is riddled with the struggles of rival factions.
Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate, and militias provide security. The ongoing civil disturbances and clan rivalries, however, have interfered with any broad-based economic development and international aid arrangements. Somalia's arrears to the IMF continued to grow in 2006.
Situation as of June 2006
In the last few days dozens of people have been killed following the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the city's medical facilities. Many civilians are reporting that they are unable to reach medical facilities due to the increase in local fighting. Mogadishu's two main hospitals have treated about 1,500 conflict related injuries since January 2006.
Mogadishu's Keysaney hospital was taken by armed fighters yesterday (Monday 30 th May), despite repeated calls by the Red Cross for medical facilities to be spared. The hospital was clearly marked with the Red Crescent emblem.
Keysaney hospital is the only medical facility in Northern Mogadishu offering surgical services. Most patients were hastily taken out of the hospital with the help of their relatives. 59 patients still remain in the hospital, attended by a handful of medical personnel.
The Red Cross are deeply concerned about the fate of the patients and the medical staff of Keysaney and of all persons currently in need of medical attention. Continued pleas have been made to respect and protect the medical personnel, medical facilities and vehicles being used to transport the wounded and sick.
International humanitarian law prohibits the use of a hospital for the conduct of hostilities. The protection of the sick and the wounded is also at the core of Birima Geido, the traditional Somali code of warfare.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan deplored the loss of life and suffering caused by the renewed violence and has called on both sides to enter into an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.
With the exception of public UN sources, reproduction or redistribution of the above text, in whole, part or in any form, requires the prior consent of the original source.
Source: Australian Aid International (AAI)