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Somalia: situation critical for thousands displaced near Mogadishu

31-08-2010 News Release 10/162

Geneva (ICRC) – Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu and other towns since 2007 are living in increasingly harsh conditions.

  ©ICRC/Y. Vann Loo    
Lower Shabelle, Somalia. Disabled IDPs await the distribution of food in the area between Mogadishu and Afgoye.    
  ©ICRC/Y. Vann Loo    
Lower Shabelle, Somalia. IDP mothers collect food from the ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent.    

A large number of the displaced have settled in makeshift camps between Mogadishu and Afgoye. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just completed a distribution of food in cooperation with the Somali Red Crescent Society to more than 55,000 people in that part of the country.

" The situation is extremely critical for the displaced, " said Pascal Mauchle, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia. " People with virtually no belongings are coping through petty trade or by growing crops on small patches of land, and also thanks to the help of resident communities. But they cannot hope to cover more than their most urgent needs. They are extremely vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. "

With each new outbreak of violence more and more people leave their homes. In July of this year alone, 4,000 newly displaced entered the camps. In its food distribution, the ICRC gave priority to the most vulnerable people, especially the disabled and single mothers with children. The rations it distributed consisted of a two-month supply of beans, rice and oil.

The fighting in Mogadishu has intensified in recent days, claiming a high number of casualties among the residents. Medina and Keysaney hospitals have treated over 200 patients with weapon-related injuries since 23 August – more than twice the average number admitted in previous weeks. The ICRC provides both hospitals with surgical equipment, medicines and training for doctors and nurses. The hospitals accept all patients, regardless of their clan and their religious or political background.

The ICRC first began working in Somalia in 1977 and has been in the country without interruption since 1982. Its delegation for Somalia has been based in Nairobi since 1994.

For further information, please contact:
  Yves Van Loo, ICRC Somalia, tel: +254 736 084 015
  Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17