At least 50 killed in Mogadishu fighting: UN

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

GENEVA (AFP) - At least 50 people were killed and dozens more injured over the week in intense fighting between government troops and rebels in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, the United Nations said Tuesday.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, warned that the fighting could worsen Somalia's humanitarian situation, adding that half of the country's population already needs aid.

"Some 75 percent of the people in need are concentrated in south and central Somalia, where most of the fighting is taking place, causing loss of life and livelihoods and impeding humanitarian access," she said.

North Somalia, meanwhile, is beset by an "alarming deterioration" in the food and nutrition situation due to a drought.

The International Committee of the Red Cross underlined the suffering of children in the country.

"Somalia's children have never known what it is like to live in peace; armed violence has ravaged the country ever since they were born," said Ahmed Hassan, who heads the Somali Red Crescent.

"Although they have adapted their short lives to the situation, they deserve all the support they can get."

The Horn of Africa country has been wracked by almost uninterrupted civil unrest since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre.

Hardline Islamist rebels launched an offensive in early May to oust the internationally-backed government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Source: AFP, Sept 01, 2009

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