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Somalia: Situation Report no. 9
7 Mar 2008
Intense fighting over the weekend (1-2 March) in Mogadishu killed an estimated 24 people and wounded over 90 more according to hospital sources. Confrontations between the Ethiopian/Transitional Federal Government (TFG) troops and anti-government elements around the Bakara market also paralyzed business. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 5,000 people were displaced during the week bringing the total to 56,000 since 1 January 2008.
The UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator a.i, William Paton, expressed concern over the continuing displacement due to insecurity in Mogadishu in a press statement on 4 March. Following a mission to Afgooye, one of the main areas of population displacement and ongoing humanitarian activities, the HC said, "the deteriorating insecurity over the past months has further aggravated efficient response to one of the gravest humanitarian situations in the world." He added that while several missions to Afgooye had been cancelled during February due to security concerns, the UN has just set up an operational base at the K-50 airstrip which will allow UN international staff to stay overnight.
Despite the security risks in Somalia, aid workers proceeded to assist vulnerable people. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assisted 8,000 IDP families in Daynile (Banadir) and pockets in and around Mogadishu with a comprehensive kit with shelter and non-food items. In Lower Shabelle, 3,820 families received the same kit from ICRC. In Doolow (Gedo), CARE distributed 125 metric tons of food to 4,500 beneficiaries. Between 25 February and 3 March, WFP distributed 1,455 metric tons of food aid in the three zones of South/Central, Puntland and Somaliland targeting 88,710 beneficiaries.
Media and journalists in Somalia continue to be targeted. Human rights and media activists condemned the closure of three radio stations during the weekend, which allegedly saw the looting of equipment from Horn Afrik, Shabelle and Simba radio. One of the directors of Radio Shabelle was also detained briefly. The three stations resumed operations on 4 March. Eight journalists were killed in 2007; one was killed and seven others arrested so far in 2008.
The safety and security of aid workers was threatened this week when a UN flight was shot at during landing on 3 March at Bu'aale airstrip (Middle Juba). The incident was related to contractual employment issues in the area; no injuries were reported. Consequently, World Vision International and WFP staff who are building a new sub-office in Bu'aale were temporarily relocated to Wajid (Bakool) until the situation calms.
Drought response in Central and Northern regions
Increasing concern about the severe drought in the central and pockets of northern regions of Somalia, forecasts for the upcoming Gu rains, expected to start in April are grim. Current climatic conditions indicate the coming season may be poor. According to Food Security Analysis Unit post-Deyr (Oct - Dec) results, nearly two million people in Somalia need humanitarian assistance or livelihood support for at the next six months. However, if the Gu season rains fail, assistance for the drought-affected areas could be required until almost the end of the year. This is an almost 30% increase from the previous six months. Central regions in Somalia are going through the third consecutive drought affecting a population of about 850,000 including around 170,000 IDPs who fled Mogadishu since 2007. The stakes are high in this area and the lives of people are in danger, and hence the need for humanitarian partners to upscale response to save lives.
During the week, in one of the drought spots in Mudug, ICRC distributed 461 metric tons of food to 2,135 households (about 13,000 beneficiaries). In the disputed region of Sool, ICRC also distributed 1,003 metric tons of food to 4,642 households (about 28,000 beneficiaries). The Norwegian Church Aid through Humanitarian Response Fund, started water trucking in Ba'ome, Laas Caanood (Sool) to 9,834 beneficiaries delivering approximately 40,000 litres of water per day (about 4 litres per person per day). In Mudug, an additional 2,000 families who fled the Mogadishu fighting were assisted with a non-food item kits from ICRC.
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