Somaliland clashes displace more than 185,000: UN


Nairobi (AFP):Clashes have forced more than 185,000 people to flee their homes in a contested border town in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, the UN’s emergency response agency said.

Somaliland, which has claimed independence from Somalia since 1991, but has never been recognised internationally, is often seen as a beacon of stability in a chaotic region.

Political unease, however, has surged in recent months, with deadly violence erupting last week between government forces and militias loyal to Somalia in the contested town of Las Anod.

In a statement released late Thursday, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Somalia said reports of heavy fighting were continuing to surface despite a declared ceasefire.

“More than 185,000 people have been displaced,” it said, with aid workers struggling to respond to the situation due to inadequate resources.

According to OCHA, women and children accounted for an estimated 89 percent of the displaced population, with many reportedly seeking shelter under trees or inside schools, which have been forced to shut due to the violence.

OCHA said that officials at Las Anod General Hospital had reported 57 deaths, with 401 injured victims treated at four different hospitals.

In addition to the tens of thousands of people displaced inside Somaliland, more than 60,000 others have fled to Ethiopia’s Somali region to escape the violence, the UN’s refugee agency said Friday.

“Exhausted and traumatized, they have arrived with very little, only taking what they could carry,” UNHCR spokeswoman Olga Sarrado Mur told a press briefing in Geneva.

“An average of 1,000 people continue to cross into Ethiopia each day,” she said, adding that resources were stretched thin in the Somali region, which is in the throes of a record drought, following five failed rainy seasons.

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