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November 11, 11

NEWS / Heavy rains and continuing conflict impede relief effort in Somalia

11 November 2011 –
Heavy rains in Somalia have made roads some impassable, rendering the delivery of relief difficult in areas with dire humanitarian needs, the United Nations refugee agency said today, adding that the bad weather and insecurity could be the reason fewer people are crossing the border into refugee camps in Kenya.

People arriving in the town of Dobley, some 18 kilometres from the Kenyan border, have told staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) that they had fled rumours of impending military operations and threats by Al Shabaab insurgents that they would be forced to return to their areas of origin, according to the agency’s spokesperson in Geneva, Adrian Edwards.

Last weekend, six trucks carrying nearly 180 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Afgooye, near the capital, Mogadishu, arrived in Dobley after travelling for 27 days on flooded roads. They said that they had been instructed by Al Shabaab to return to their farms, but had instead decided to travel to Dobley to seek help.

In Mogadishu, UNHCR and its partners are finalizing an assessment of IDPs settlements. Preliminary results indicate that there are nearly 300 displaced persons’ sites of varying sizes in the city.

Meanwhile, a UNHCR-supported report launched yesterday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, calls for assistance for civilians harmed by the conflict in Somalia. The report, entitled Civilian Harm in Somalia: Creating an Appropriate Response, points out that there is currently no international legal obligation for parties to the conflict to redress the adverse effects of their military actions on civilians.

UNHCR stressed the moral imperative of compensating civilians for losses of property, injury or life as a result of military activities.

“We also call upon donors to provide the necessary financial support to fund implementation of the recommendations in the report, so that an effective policy on making amends can be established by AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia],” said Mr. Edwards.

The 60-page report recommends the establishment of a mechanism to track, analyze, investigate and respond to all incidents of civilian harm. It also calls for all parties to the conflict in Somalia to immediately cease targeting civilians and humanitarian agencies for attack.




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