New York, US (PANA) - The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, has stressed the need to minimize the impact of conflict on civilians, as the military forces make their way into Somalia’s Afgooye corridor.
``At this stage, we have no reports of significant movements of people from the corridor,”
Bowden said in a statement, made available to PANA in New York, on Wednesday.
He, however, said: ``I remain concerned that an escalation of hostilities or a prolonged
operation could lead to displacement, further straining the capacity of settlements and host communities in Mogadishu or driving people away from the life-saving help they require''.
He also reiterated the need to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need in the Afgooye corridor, located outside of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
According to him: ``While remaining strictly neutral and independent of political and military processes, humanitarian actors are coordinating preparations to ensure that immediate assistance is available to civilians most affected by military activities in the corridor''.
The UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) issued a statement Wednesday, saying Afgooye has for a long time been a stronghold of Al Shabaab insurgents and is a strategic junction for routes to the north, west and south of Somalia.
It stated that in the military action, tagged: ``Operation Free Shabelle'', its forces and those of the Somali National Army, have made significant progress in the last 24 hours towards Afgooye town, with the aim of bringing security to the 400,000 people located inside the Afgooye corridor.
Also, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has previously said that an upsurge in conflict in the corridor will most likely lead to a further displacement of internally displaced people (IDPs) from the corridor into Mogadishu and surrounding areas.
It noted that the number of IDPs in the capital is currently estimated at 184,000.
After decades of warfare, Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation
process, with the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions in the process of implementing
a roadmap, devised in September last year, that spells out priority measures to be carried
out before the current transitional governing arrangements end on 20 August.
Until last year, most of Mogadishu was, for several years, driven by a fluid frontline dividing
the two sides – fighters belonging to the Al Shabaab movement and troops belonging to
Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, with the latter supported by AMISOM’s
Since the Al Shabaab withdrawal from the capital’s central parts in August last year, the
frontlines were pushed back to the city’s surrounding area. However, the use of roadside
bombs, grenades and suicide bombers is still a regular occurrence, and outbreaks of
fighting still take place.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 24May2012