Desperate civilians fleeing Somalia
KAKUMA, Kenya – Fighting in the Somali capital has claimed more than 230 lives in the past two weeks and fleeing civilians are so desperate they are giving away their last possessions for seats on a bus out of the city, United Nations officials said.
The continual fighting started August 23 after the militant group al-Shabab threatened a “massive” war against government forces, who are backed by African Union peacekeepers.
The UN says 230 plus people have been killed, 400 wounded and at least 23 000 displaced since fighting began, and that civilians who remained were too frightened to venture out for food. More than 200 000 Somalis are estimated to have fled their homes this year.
Three civilians were killed in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu yesterday and 23 people were wounded, said ambulance service director Ali Muse.
Militants, some of whom have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, are trying to overthrow Somalia’s weak, UN-backed government and install a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. The conflict is also complicated by clan rivalries.
“My appeal to the international community is not to send Somalis back to south and central Somalia against their will,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who was beginning a three-day tour of refugee camps in northern Kenya. (AP)