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Hunger stalks Mogadishu hospitals

A young man injured in the fighting in Mogadishu recovering at Medina hospital
A young man injured in the fighting in Mogadishu recovering at Medina hospital (Yasmin Omar/IRIN)

Hundreds of civilians injured in clashes between Somali government forces and insurgents are facing hunger in Mogadishu hospitals, medical sources told IRIN on 22 June.

Hospitals in Mogadishu have reportedly been overwhelmed by the number of the injured seeking treatment since fighting intensified in early May.

"We have more people in the hospital than ever but we are still able to meet their medical needs, thanks to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross]," Dahir Mohamed, deputy director of Medina hospital - the largest in the city - told IRIN on 22 June.

He said the numbers of people seeking treatment continued to grow daily and that all the wards were full. "We have set up sheds and tents outside for the extra load… We are even treating people under trees."

However, he said, the hospital faced a new problem: "Patients are going hungry because we don’t have the means to feed them."

In the past, relatives would bring food to their patients, "but now the relatives are either in hospital themselves or have fled the city to safer areas," he said, adding that entire families were now staying in hospitals "with no one out there to support them".

Most of those coming to the hospital were already weakened by inadequate food and "are now traumatized and hungry". Many of those in need of feeding were children, he said. “On Saturday [20 June] alone we had 105 new patients and 20 percent of them were children. Many of them have lost both parents and are yet to be claimed by relatives," he said

Displacement from Mogadishu

Mouvements de déplacements de Mogadiscio
Displacement from Mogadishu
Thursday, June 4, 2009
La faim hante les hôpitaux de Mogadiscio
Displacement from Mogadishu

Photo: ReliefWeb
Displacement from Mogadishu


Mohamed appealed to aid agencies to provide "wet feeding in the hospitals… It is a very desperate situation and I hope someone will come to our aid."

Meanwhile, thousands of civilians were reported to be fleeing the city again following intense fighting 20-21 June between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government and Islamist insurgents, in areas that had previously escaped the fighting.

"Residents in Karan, Abdulcasis and Shibis districts [all in north Mogadishu] are fleeing the area, taking advantage of a lull in the fighting," said Hassan Mahamud, a local journalist, who had to take his family from Karan.

"I have never seen anything like this in Karan," he said. "If the exodus continues there will be no one left in Karan."

Zahra Hassan fled her home on 22 June and is now building a temporary shelter in the village of Bulalow, near Afgoye, 30km south of the city.

"This is the first time in 19 years that I had to leave my home," she told IRIN. She said the fighting on 19-20 June was very intense in her Karan neighbourhood. "We could not venture anywhere; we were running out of everything; that is when I decided to leave." She said many of her neighbours were also leaving, taking advantage of a lull in the fighting. "There was no shelling this morning [22 June], so we left," she said.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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