UN: Atrocities in Somalia force 100,000 to flee

Refugee agency says residents experiencing near-daily rape, shelling and fighting as insurgents try to install Islamic state.

June 9, 2009 14:47
UN: Atrocities in Somalia force 100,000 to flee

somalia fleeing 248.88. (photo credit: AP)


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Residents of Somalia are experiencing near-daily atrocities, including rape, the shelling civilian areas and fighting that has forced more than 100,000 to flee their homes since May, the UN refugee agency said Tuesday. A surge of violence in Somalia since last month has killed about 200 people. Insurgents are trying to topple the country's Western-backed government and install a strict Islamic state. "It's a critical humanitarian situation, with regular atrocities being committed," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva. "We are particularly concerned about how the fighting is affecting a population that has already endured several decades of war." The Islamist insurgency has killed thousands of civilians and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing for their lives in recent years. Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, and the US worries that Somalia could be a terrorist breeding ground. Observers say the Somali insurgents have been boosted recently by up to 400 foreign jihad fighters who are believed to have come from as far away as Afghanistan. Experts have expressed fears that the foreign Islamic militants could use Somalia as a base for terror. The insurgents launched a major offensive against the government last month.

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