Thursday, April 16, 2009

Somalia: 60,000 people uprooted by violence have returned to volatile capital

The United Nations refugee agency has voiced concern that some 60,000 people uprooted by violence in Somalia have returned to its volatile capital since the beginning of the year.

The High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is not encouraging the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Mogadishu due to an unstable security situation and a lack of basic services.

“Although Mogadishu was relatively peaceful in March, the fighting that erupted at the end of that month between an armed opposition group and government forces displaced some 1,200 people,” agency spokesperson Ron Redmond said yesterday.

The returnees “are facing multiple problems, including the lack of adequate shelter,” he added.

Many houses have also been destroyed in the heavy fighting that has ravaged Mogadishu in the last two years.

Despite signs of people returning to Mogadishu, the insecurity in some regions of Somalia, combined with drought and limited livelihood opportunities for those in rural and urban areas, is still driving thousands of Somalis to flee to neighboring nations, said Mr. Redmond.

Over 24,000 Somali refugees have fled to Kenya since January, some 3,000 entered Ethiopia and another 10,000 people left their homes during the same period because of an acute drought ravaging many parts of the Horn of Africa country.

“The biggest problem is the heavy loss of livestock suffered by the predominantly pastoralist communities in the worst drought in 30-years,” said the UNHCR spokesperson.

The agency assists more than 460,000 Somali refugees in nearby countries – 277,000 in Kenya, 126,000 in Yemen, 36,000 in Ethiopia, 8,000 in Djibouti, and 7,000 in Uganda – in addition to coordinating protection and shelter activities for the 1.3 million IDPs in Somalia.

Source: UN News Centre
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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