Violence in the disputed town of Las Anod in Somaliland, a self-declared independent region of Somalia, has forced more than 185,000 people to leave their homes. This is according to the local office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). “More than 185,000 people have been displaced,” Osha wrote in a statement, adding that 89% of those displaced are women and children. Many of those displaced have found no shelter other than the shade of a tree or schools that have closed due to the violence. Osha said
The international community does not accept Somaliland’s declaration of independence from Somalia in 1991. Somaliland is a territory that was formerly controlled by the British. Since then, this region of 4.5 million people has stayed impoverished and isolated, but it has experienced relative stability while neighboring Somalia has been beset by an Islamist insurgency led by the Shebab.
Even so, hostilities have been rising in Somaliland over the course of the past few months. In Las Anod, on February 6, armed forces from the region and militias loyal to the Somali central authority engaged in combat with one another. The ownership of this location, which is close to the boundary and important for commerce, has shifted several times over the course of the past few decades.
According to Ocha, officials at Las Anod General Hospital recorded 57 fatalities and 401 injuries, which were distributed across this structure and three others located within the city. There has been no information provided regarding the deceased’s identities. A temporary halt to hostilities was announced by Somaliland’s governing officials a few days later, on February 10. On the 12th, however, they claimed that their troops had been attacked by militia members.
The investigation was carried out by Ocha over the weekend, and according to their findings, the fighting has not stopped despite the ceasefire. Somaliland’s government has made accusations, but Mogadishu has not given a clear answer. Hamza Abdi Barre, the Prime Minister of Somalia, issued a statement on Friday stating that they “welcome the ceasefire and ask for immediate access for humanitarian assistance.” He wrote on Twitter, “The need for emergency aid is even more urgent now that thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated on Friday during a press briefing that “more than 60,000 Somalis, primarily children and women,” have arrived in the southeast of neighboring Ethiopia from the Las Anod area. The briefing took place in Geneva.
“Exhausted and traumatized, they arrived with very few belongings, taking with them only what they could take,” explained Olga Sarrado Mur, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “An average of one thousand individuals continue to enter Ethiopia each and every day,” she added, pointing out that resources were limited in the Somali region of Ethiopia, which is afflicted by a record drought.
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