More than 83,000 flee violence in Somaliland

More than 83,000 flee violence in Somaliland

Lasanod town has seen nearly 3 weeks of fighting between Somalia’s breakaway region Somaliland forces and clan militias

By Mohammed Dhaysane

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has said more than 83,000 civilians fled the violence in Somalia’s northern town of Lasanod and arrived in Ethiopia’s Somali state.

“Due to conflict in the Laascaanod district, an increasing number of people have been fleeing their homes, with more than 83,000 (subject to verification) having crossed the border into the Doolo zone of Ethiopia's Somali region over the past month," UNHCR said in a statement last Tuesday.

Most of the displaced people include women, pregnant and lactating mothers, children, including unaccompanied and separated, the elderly, persons with serious medical conditions and with disabilities, according to the UN.

“They face high protection risks and are in need of urgent assistance,” the UNHCR statement said.

Host communities who have already been hit by the terrible drought in the Horn of Africa have “generously” welcomed the displaced families sharing the little they have.

"The Government of Ethiopia (GoE), having maintained its longstanding generosity to asylum seekers, is receiving the needy by keeping the humanitarian and civilian nature of the overall response," said Tesfahun Gobezay, the director general of Ethiopia's Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS).

The UN refugee agency said they are doing all they can to help the new arrivals and called for urgent international attention to respond to rapidly growing needs.

“While discussions are on-going to decide on the locations to establish settlements for those in need, we call for the further support from the international community, partners and other stakeholders to join efforts to help respond to the unfolding emergency in the Doolo zone,” said the statement issued by the UN refugee agency.

Lasanod, where the thousands of people who crossed in to the Somali-Ethiopian border fled from, has seen an increase of violence.

At least 112 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded in fierce fighting in the town, according to Abdimajid Hussein Sugulle, the director-general of a public hospital in Lasanod who spoke to Anadolu by phone earlier.

Fighting started in Lasanod, the administrative capital of Somaliland’s eastern Sool region, after a group of local leaders, civil society groups and religious leaders announced last week that they would no longer recognize the Somaliland government.

In a statement, they said the territory will now be ruled from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

The Somaliland administration has labelled the local forces “terrorists” and blamed them for the violence.

The Sool and Sanaag regions have been disputed territories with both Somaliland and Puntland states claiming ownership.

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