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“Somalia: Displacement and Worsening Humanitarian Situation”
by Reuters   
July 31st, 2010
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Renewed fighting in Mogadishu and other areas of Somalia since May 2009 has displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians and also exacerbated the already desperate humanitarian situation of existing internally displaced people (IDPs), in particular the children and women among them. About 200,000 people have been displaced since January 2010, in addition to the estimated 1.5 million who remained displaced at the end of 2009. In Somaliland, thousands of families were displaced as a result of fighting between ‘government’ forces and a new rebel group.

The prevailing insecurity continues to block humanitarian access, despite the massive need for assistance, particularly in south and central Somalia. In January, the World Food Programme (WFP) suspended operations in southern Somalia because of threats and unacceptable conditions set by armed groups. However, a handful of agencies do operate in south central despite these threats either through local NGO’s or by negotiating access individually with powers that be.

The civilian population continues to face threats to their life and human dignity, and IDPs have continued to face threats, intimidation, looting, assault, and sexual and gender-based violence. The violence and conflict have stretched peoples’ coping strategies as livelihood opportunities and access to food is further limited. In Puntland, some IDPs were forcefully returned to areas that they had fled from.

The violence has had particular consequences for children. A quarter of the nearly 1,400 casualties recorded by three of the main hospitals in Mogadishu between late March and late last month were children under the age of five. Children were also affected by outbreaks of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea. Both the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and insurgents have reportedly recruited children to their fighting forces.

The African Union force (AMISOM) have also been accused on indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas with consequences for civilian casualties and resultant displacement.

The Transitional Federal Government, despite enjoying international support, remains weak and unable to provide protection and assistance. Problems of access and concerns about aid being diverted have led donors to decrease funding to agencies. In 2009, only 54 per cent of the humanitarian appeal for Somalia was funded.
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