Several thousand people in northern Somalia have been displaced in recent weeks by clashes between Somaliland troops and a new rebel group, according to local and UN sources.
The armed group is called Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) after the regions it hopes to “liberate” from the government of Somaliland, a northwestern region which unilaterally declared independence in 1991. No country formally recognizes Somaliland’s statehood.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 1,232 displaced households in the Buuhoodle and Widhwidh districts of the Sool region received a month’s worth of oil and sorghum in June. WFP works on the basis of an average of six people per household. Insecurity prevented 468 targeted households from receiving the rations.
In an email to IRIN, WFP cited a local NGO report that an additional 334 households had been displaced more recently in the Kalabaid area of Sool.
One of those displaced, Hawa Hassan, told IRIN in the town of Widhwidh on 21 July: “We first ran away in early June when the war broke out and I brought my family back in July, but another war broke out a few days ago between the army and the region’s militia.”
Hawa said she fled with her family to Dhagah Dheer, 18km northwest of Widhwidh.
“We have been struggling to survive in a forested area but the heavy rains and the cold weather makes it difficult for us to endure,” she said.
Saleebaan Warsame Guuleed, Somaliland’s defence minister, said one soldier was killed and another injured in the latest clashes with SSC.
Elders in Widhwidh District said families started fleeing from 21 May to neighbouring villages such as Xidh-Xidh, Bali Cad, Geed Dheer, Balihadhac, Dhagah Dheer, Dabayl ma arke, Shululux, Qalanqale, Geed Xamarka, Dhilaalo, Horufadhi, Beeyaal and Laas-dhooble.
Abdillahi Awad, one of the elders, told IRIN: “Those displaced are living under difficult conditions because of the rains in the `Gu’ season as well as the cold climate. In fact, malaria, diarrhoea and common colds have broken out in many of the places where these people fled to.”
Awad said the displaced had received some aid but more was needed.
“They have only received some plastic shelter material from the local business community, and medicine from Las-anod hospital; food has been distributed by WFP,” Awad said.
Ali Sabarey, the deputy leader of SSC, was quoted in some media reports as saying the group’s “ultimate goal is to make this area peaceful and prosperous and also seek a united Somalia”.
During campaigns ahead of 26 June presidential elections, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, who won the poll, pledged to start negotiations with SSC.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]