SOMALIA: UN appeals for unhindered humanitarian access amid clashes in Las Anod

Published: March 4, 2023

The United Nations relief official in Somalia on Friday appealed for unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need as clashes between security forces and clan leaders in Las Anod in northern Somalia intensifies.

Magatte Guisse, the humanitarian coordinator for Somalia ad interim, said at least 80 people have been killed in the violence in the disputed Sool Region, with 451 injuries among those not fighting, including medical personnel.

“With the fighting now in its fourth week, more than 185,000 people have reportedly been displaced and hospitals have been damaged, jeopardizing access to essential care for the wounded,” Guisse said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Local reports quoting Abdirahim Ali Ismail, the mayor of the contested town, however, said 210 people have lost their lives and 680 others wounded in the clashes which began on Feb. 6.

Las Anod is in the Sool and Sanaag regions, which are claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland States.

The current fighting broke out on Feb. 6 after local clan elders issued a declaration stating that they are no longer part of Somaliland and that the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions are now governed by the government of Somalia.

Guisse expressed concern about the humanitarian impact of the fighting which is ongoing at a time when Somalia is experiencing its worst drought on record.

“I call for respect for humanitarian and medical workers, respect for medical facilities and services and to allow the wounded and sick to receive the medical care and attention required by their condition, without discrimination,” he said.

The UN relief official appealed for restraint and recalled that force must only ever be used in accordance with applicable international law, norms and standards, including human rights and international humanitarian law, where applicable.

According to the UN, almost 214,000 people in the Sool Region, 43 percent of the population, are currently experiencing a crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.

Guisse said the high levels of displacement are expected to further exacerbate humanitarian needs, adding that an estimated 8.25 million people across Somalia, nearly half the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2023.