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UNICEF condemns shelling of Mogadishu hospital and calls for full access for humanitarian aid to displaced families

GENEVA, 27 April 2007 - UNICEF today condemned the mortar shelling of the SOS hospital in Somalia's capital and called for full access for humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing the fighting in Mogadishu.

"We deplore the indiscriminate shelling of a medical facility," said UNICEF Representative in Somalia Christian Balslev-Olesen, "It is an action that is totally unacceptable and one for which no justification can be given."

"Where is the accountability in this conflict? Every day thousands of displaced people - most of them women and children - are living a nightmare of violence. Lacking food and shelter; poor water and sanitation they are enduring a perilous and intolerable existence. UNICEF's ability to deliver much-needed supplies is also hampered by the fighting. We cannot access our warehouses in Mogadishu and we cannot effectively reach the people who need our assistance the most," added Balslev-Olesen.

Some 340,000 have fled the fighting in Mogadishu since February. There have been reports of attacks by bandits and once arriving in communities, the displaced are overwhelming the existing social services. Acute watery diarrhoea is a growing concern as public sanitation systems are strained. Further health risks continue in Mogadishu, where insecurity in some areas has hindered collection of dead and decomposing bodies.

Central and Southern Somalia reported 16,597 cases of acute watery diarrhoea since January, including 37 confirmed cases of cholera and 593 deaths as of 15 April. Mogadishu alone had 5,664 cases of acute watery diarrhoea through 7 April, including 24 cholera cases and 92 deaths.

Child protection monitors in Mogadishu report that children have been victims of indiscriminate shooting and shelling. Displacement is also forcing women to search for food, water and shelter, forcing them to leave their children unattended. UNICEF is mobilizing and supporting partner organizations to identify and reunite with their families the hundreds of children who have lost their parents during the fighting.

UNICEF assistance has included chlorination of water sources, four water 5,000-litre water bladders for areas around Mogadishu, Oral Rehydration Salts and intravenous rehydration kits for the treatment of acute watery diarrhoea, anti-malaria treatment and rapid diagnostic tests, social mobilization to raise awareness on hygiene and sanitation issues, pre-positioning of emergency supplies, cholera kits, jerry cans and blankets.

Generous donor funding enabled UNICEF to respond to flooding and diarrhoea outbreaks, but it urgently needs $11.5 million to address the nutrition, health, education and protection needs of children. Funding is needed for an expanded programme on immunization, to establish temporary schools, to assure access to safe water for 100,000 people who have recently fled Mogadishu, to expand child protection monitoring and support services and for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media New York: Tel + 1 212 326 - 7426, Email pmccormick@unicef.org

Veronique Taveau, UNICEF Geneva: Tel (+41 22) 909 5716, Email vtaveau@unicef.org


 

 

 

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25 April 2007:
UNICEF Representative in Somalia Christian Balslev-Olesen discusses the dire situation of children and women displaced by violence in Mogadishu.
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