The top United Nations relief official in Somalia has voiced grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the strife-torn nation, where fresh clashes last week have reportedly killed more than 40 people and displaced over 50,000.
The UN News Centre reports that up to 90% of the population of Dhuusamarreeb and Guriceel towns, in Galgaduud region in central Somalia, have fled their homes since fighting began on 27 December.
Many of them had already been displaced due to previous violence in the capital, Mogadishu.
“I am extremely alarmed by the fighting that has taken place in central Somalia during the past week,” says UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden. “I strongly condemn the unacceptable number of casualties and massive displacement of civilians who continue to bear the brunt of conflict and insecurity in the country.”
Bowden called for a cessation of all hostilities to allow urgently needed humanitarian assistance to be provided to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Dhuusamarreeb and Guriceel, as well as in other parts of Somalia, where the UN estimates that some 3.2 million people, or 40% of the population, are in need of assistance.
The majority of those recently displaced are scattered in the surrounding villages and are in desperate need of shelter, water, non-food items and food assistance, according to a news release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The situation for the recently displaced is made worse by a general lack of humanitarian access in Galgaduud region due to deteriorating security.
The recent fighting has compounded an already grave humanitarian crisis in Galgaduud region, which is experiencing a serious drought in addition to hosting some 130 000 IDPs from Mogadishu.
Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991, has been plagued by fighting and humanitarian suffering for decades. Continuing instability, coupled with drought, high food prices and the collapse of the local currency have only worsened the dire humanitarian situation in recent months.