The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has carried out its first visit to over 300 detainees in Las Anod on Thursday, August 31. The detained combatants were captured in the latest round of fighting between the Somaliland army and SSC Khatumo forces that took place over the weekend.
The ICRC visits detainees on both sides of the conflict, having previously visited Hargeisa Central Prison, where inmates from SSC Khatumo are held. The purpose of these visits is purely humanitarian, with the aim of ensuring that all detainees are treated humanely and that their families know their whereabouts.
“It is crucial that each detainee, from either side, is treated in accordance with international humanitarian law. This means that every detained person must have access to food and water and must never be subject to any form of ill-treatment,” said Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC delegation in Somalia.
To help improve the material conditions of detention, ICRC teams also delivered blankets and mattresses to the places of detention in Las Anod.
Together with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), the ICRC also facilitated the transfer of four wounded prisoners to Qaran Hospital in Garowe, where they received specialized treatment.
Because of the fighting in and around Las Anod, many civilians lost contact with their family members. “Not knowing what happened to their loved ones is causing an incredible amount of anguish to people,” said Ahmed Said, who oversees ICRC’s operations in the northern part of the country. “Our offices in Hargeisa and Garowe, together with the SRCS, are trying to help people find their family members.”
Fighting between the Somaliland army and SSC Khatumo broke out early this year, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. Las Anod, the capital of Sool region, has been its main battleground, resulting in widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.
The ICRC and the SRCS have supported hospitals in the area with medical supplies to help treat the wounded. At the same time, the SRCS ambulance response unit has carried out frontline triage, providing initial treatment, and then transporting wounded people for medical care. In the past week,110 wounded people were transported to hospital, while 42 dead bodies were collected to assist with the carrying out of dignified and proper burial.