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Spike in violence displaces 34,000 people
in southern Somalia report United Nations

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- An upsurge in insecurity and conflict has displaced about 34,000 people in Lower Shabelle region, southern Somalia over the last few months, the UN said.

Citing latest figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-led protection and return monitoring network, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the majority of the displaced are women and children.

OCHA said threats of new displacements remain due to the ongoing military activities in some of the areas, noting that those displaced have mainly sought refuge in urban and peri-urban areas of Mogadishu, Baidoa, Galkayo and Kismayo.

“Despite the recent developments to calm the situation, the rise in displacement in Lower Shabelle has resulted in a significant increase in humanitarian needs within the region, where some areas are particularly hard-to-reach, and in Mogadishu, where most of the displaced have fled,” OCHA said in its latest report released late Monday.

The African Union and Somali forces have stepped up their military operations against the militants in southern Somalia in the recent past.

The al-Qaida linked terrorist group al-Shabab has also stepped up their onslaught on the government and AU mission’s bases after being forced out of the capital and other major urban areas in Somalia by national and African Union forces

Targets have included hotels, military checkpoints, and the presidential palace.

According to OCHA, information on the extent of the humanitarian impact in the areas of origin remains limited due to insecurity, limited humanitarian presence and access to some areas.

It said the displaced populations live in dire conditions, noting that an increase in protection issues, particularly the restriction of movement, arbitrary arrests and civilian casualties and the destruction of properties and livelihood assets are major concerns.

“Some IDPs in Mogadishu have also reportedly shown interest in returning home as soon as the security situation permits,” OCHA said.

According to UN, some 2.6 million people remain displaced in Somalia. Some of them have been displaced multiple times as the value of the land that hosted them rises and landowners seek other ways of exploiting their value.



Number of food insecure Somalis drops to 4.6 million in September: UN

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance dropped from 6.7 million at the peak of the crisis in 2017 to 4.6 million by September, the UN humanitarian agency said.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) however said continued strong support from donors will be required to sustain the life-saving assistance early in 2019, alongside scaling up livelihood and resilience support despite improvements in the humanitarian situation.

OCHA attributed improved food security to sustained humanitarian response and above-average rainfall between April and June.

The Horn of Africa nation experienced a prolonged drought from late 2016 through late 2017 that resulted in significant livestock losses and consecutive seasons of below-average production, causing severe and at times extreme acute food insecurity.

However, according to the FAO-led Somalia Water and Land Information Management, rainfall in October has been below average across most parts of Somalia.

It said rainfall performance in November and December will determine the impact of the Deyr season on food production.


One injured after roadside blast hits AU convoy in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A roadside blast damaged a vehicle and injured a driver of Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Soqola area in northern Mogadishu, the AU mission said on Tuesday.

AMISOM said its convoy was travelling from Maslah on Tuesday morning when it encountered double improvised explosive device (IED) explosions in the Soqola area.

“The first explosion damaged an AMISOM vehicle and caused minor injuries to the driver of the vehicle, while the second exploded prematurely, causing no damage or injuries,” said the AU mission.

However, reports from the area said four civilians were killed during a gunfight between al-Shabab militants and AMISOM soldiers after the blast targeted the military vehicle.

Angry residents burnt tyres, barricaded roads and urged the authorities to launch investigations into the incident. 


United Nations condemns shooting on UN convoy in central Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The UN top envoy in Somalia on Tuesday condemned unprovoked shooting on a convoy of UN vehicles along the road between the cities of Galkayo and Adaado in Galmudug state in central region on Saturday.

Nicholas Haysom, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said the convoy was escorted by a dozen of police officers from South Galkayo when it was stopped some 5 km outside Adaado at a checkpoint manned by eight men claiming to be police officers.

Haysom said none of the individuals wore police uniforms, but they obstructed the convoy that was carrying a team of UN personnel assigned to make preparations for an upcoming visit to Dhusamarreb by UN officials.

According to the UN mission, after the UN officials decided to abort the mission and head back to Galkayo, a truck carrying militiamen drove through the checkpoint and opened fire on the UN convoy.

“None of the members of the convoy was injured nor were any of the UN vehicles damaged in the shooting incident,” said the mission.

“Last week’s attack on a UN convoy is unacceptable, and we call on the authorities in Galmudug state and the Federal Government to hold accountable those militiamen who opened fire on our colleagues,” he said in a statement.

The UN envoy said such an attack has not happened to the UN in Somalia for a very long time.

Haysom said the UN personnel must be granted free passage throughout the Horn of Africa nation at all times.

“They must be able to implement the mandates of UNSOM and UN agencies, funds and programs without running the risk of being fired upon for no justifiable reason,” said Haysom.


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