UN: Somalia crisis worst in Africa

 Click here: Al Jazeera.net – UN: Somalia crisis worst in Africa

John Holmes, the UN humanitarian affairs chief, said civilians were increasingly bearing the brunt of the fighting between government forces backed by Ethiopia and fighters loyal to the Islamic Courts group. …The United Nations refugee agency estimates that 173,000 people have fled the fighting in the capital Mogadishu in just the past two weeks alone, bringing the total number of displaced people in Somalia to 850,000.

…Returning from a visit to Mogadishu, European Commission officials said some 5,000 Somalis had been treated for war-related injuries in hospitals there since the start of the year, and that about a third of those were women and children. Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow said in a city where few things worked apart from weapons, it was the lack of healthcare that was most appalling.

The under-equipped and under-staffed Madina hospital, one of only three offering help to Mogadishu’s sick and wounded, dozens of patients arrive daily. A typical day for the surgical staff has them working round the clock to remove bullets, fix ripped intestines and perform amputations.

…Pascale Lund, the senior Red Cross official in Somalia, appealed to both sides of the conflict to “respect the international humanitarian law”. But Somalia’s president says civilian casualties in Mogadishu are unavoidable. “When two elephants fight, the grass gets damaged. We are not the cause of these deaths. It is being caused by those who attack the government.

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