03/13/2010versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

Ceaseless fighting in the northern districts of the Somalian capital for three days amid worsening hygienic-sanitary conditions

Mogadishu in chaos. For the three days now the the northern districts of the Somalian capital have been the scene of violent battles. On one side the rebels of al-Shabaab, an Islamic fundamentalist group considered to be very close to al Qaeda,and on the other the army and the peacekeepers of the AMISOM mission, together defending the current transitional government. In the middle of all this, the population, defenceless victims of a silent guerrilla warfare that has caused at least 70 deaths and over a hundred wounded in just the last three days. According to the figures of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), one hundred thousand Somalis have been forced to flee their homes to escape the violence and now live as displaced persons in their own country. Since the end of February, about 33 thousand people have fled Mogadishu, the centre of the fighting, to take shelter in makeshift refugee camps set up at the gates of the capital. Hygienic-sanitary conditions get worse every day. The luckier ones, at least ten thousand of them according to the UNHCR, have managed to make it to Kenya.

"In Mogadishu there is a shortage of everything - are the dejected words of Dr. Asha Cumar, who works in the AMISOM field hospital in the south of the city -, the humanitarian situation is disastrous and we don't know what to do any more. There are three other hospitals in the capital as well as ours but they're not enough to cope with the emergency. We don't have life-saving drugs or surgical instruments and, worst of all, we don't have gauze, so essential for surgical operations. Tomorrow we've got to operate on 5 women, but we haven't got a single piece of gauze and I just don't know what we're going to do". According to Dr. Cumar, the most recent fighting has been particularly intense and violent and is severely testing the Somalian capital, which is being reduced to a desert. "By now there's nobody left - she goes on -, most of the population has fled. All that's left in Mogadishu is the Shabaab, who are really young boys, often under 20, and the AMISOM soldiers. There's a strong foreign presence on both sides. We Somalis are hostages in our own country". Given the seriousness of the situation, the mayor of Mogadishu, Abdirisaq Mohamed Nur, has appealed to the few remaining citizens, exhorting them to leave the city, which is no longer a safe place. The fighting is district by district in a guerrilla war that takes no prisoners.

As the fighting rages in Mogadishu, there are rumours at international level of a possible United States airborne operation in support of the African Union troops. Local news sources have actually reported spy planes surveying the port city of Chisimaio in the south, recently fallen into the hands of the fundamentalists, to gather information. According Dr. Cumar, though, these rumours are groundless. "Nobody will ever come here - she concludes - I'm very angry with the international community and above all with the United Nations. Nobody's interested in us. We have no value and we're just left to our own destiny. I don't see anybody concerned about what's happening in Somalia, even though here it's an inferno".


Benedetta Guerriero