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Published:May 26th, 2009 10:58 EST
UN: Over 67,000 Somalis Displaced By Fighting

UN: Over 67,000 Somalis Displaced By Fighting

By SOP newswire3

26 May 2009 " The number of Somalis fleeing the latest escalation of fighting in and around Mogadishu has surpassed 67,000, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today, adding that worsening security has also hampered aid delivery to the capital.

Intense fighting between the Government and the opposition Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam groups erupted in several north-west areas of Mogadishu on 8 May.

According to UNHCR, most of the uprooted are heading to makeshift camps along the Afgooye corridor, south-west of Mogadishu. These sites are already hosting an estimated 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Those displaced who are unable to make the 30-kilometre journey have sought refuge in south-western parts of Mogadishu that have not yet been overrun by fighting, UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

The agency added that the deteriorating security situation has sharply reduced deliveries of desperately needed humanitarian aid to the displaced in and around the capital.

Local agencies that have been providing a lifeline to the IDPs are facing growing security problems as they try to help the needy,  Mr. Redmond said.

Starting today, UNHCR is distributing aid " including cooking sets, plastic sheeting and blankets " for some 50,000 people in the Afgooye corridor through its local partners in Somalia.

Somalia is one of the world`s largest refugee-producing countries, and the number of Somalis fleeing to neighbouring countries continues to rise, the agency added.

In addition to providing protection and assistance to some half a million Somali refugees in nearby countries, including Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Eritrea and Tanzania, UNHCR is also coordinating aid for the 1.3 million displaced in Somalia.