Wednesday October 27, 2021
Fighters loyal to ASWJ were driven out of Guricel by national forces and paramilitaries in Galmudug, a region that has long faced an armed struggle by the militia. (Reuters)
NAIROBI (AFP) – The United Nations (UN) warned yesterday of severe humanitarian problems in central Somalia after 100,000 people were displaced by fighting between pro-government forces and Sufi militants.
Fighters loyal to Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) occupied the strategic town of Guricel earlier this month, before being driven out last week by national forces and paramilitaries in operations that killed at least a dozen people, including civilians.
“We are concerned, even alarmed, by the ongoing fighting in Guricel which is now continuing for the past few days,” the UN Special Representative for Somalia James Swan told a press briefing.
“First and foremost, we are concerned by its humanitarian consequences, which have been severe. Reports are still initial but they signal nearly 20,000 families displaced, representing some 100,000 people.”
He also warned of “very troubling reports of damage to hospitals and civil society facilities as a consequence of the fighting,” adding that such attacks amounted to a violation of international humanitarian law.
The UN earlier said that many of those fleeing the violence had sought shelter in villages that are already grappling with drought and water shortages.
Guricel is the second-largest town in the Galmudug region, which has witnessed a long armed struggle by the Sufi militia.