New York- US (PANA) -- The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Tuesday expressed concern ov er the escalating violence in Somalia, saying the widening strife in the lawless nation was having a devastating effect on the civilian population.
The UNHCR also said the situation was sparking increased displacement.
In a statement, the UN agency said over 150 people were killed or injured and so me 7,000 people displaced in the latest clashes between two rival militia groups , which begun last week.
It said the groups are Al Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jaama, in Dhusamareb in Gal gaduud region of Central Somalia.
"Sketchy reports indicate that the displacement figure might be higher.
Local NGO partners have told UNHCR that the IDPs (the internally displaced perso ns) have fled to some 16 villages around Dhusamareb," it stated.
According to UNHCR, most of them are reported to be living under trees and many children have fallen ill as a result of the cold nights.
It also added that "due to fear of renewed fighting, the IDPs said they have no intention of returning to their homes until the situation stabilizes.
" Meanwhile, UNHCR said the number of Somalis streaming into the neighbouring coun tries has also increased.
"Some 3,000 Somalis were registered as refugees in Ethiopia in December alone.
T he estimated rate of new arrivals has gone up from 100 to 150 a day," the UN age n cy said.
It noted that, "the Bokolmanyo refugee camp in south-eastern Ethiopia, which was established only nine months ago now hosts over 22,000 Somali refugees, and is a lready full to capacity.
"We have registered some 4,000 new refugees at the Dolo Ado transit centre on th e Ethiopia-Somalia border, pending their relocation to a second camp that UNHCR i s developing to respond to the growing influx from Somalia," it said.
In Kenya, UNHCR said it has registered 4,175 Somalis as refugees in the Dadaab r efugee complex since December.
More than 110,000 Somalis sought asylum in Kenya (55,000), Yemen (32,000), Ethio pia (22,000) and Djibouti (3,000) in 2009, bringing the total number of Somali r e fugees in the region to over 560,000.
PANA reported that international aid agencies feared that the growing insecurity , the drought and the suspension of food aid in south central regions could deep e n Somalia's humanitarian crisis.
They also said the situation might trigger large-scale influx into the neighboring and nearby countries.