Somalia has been plunged into chaos after conflict between the Union of Islamic Courts and the Transitional Federal Government. Fighting broke out in southern and central Somalia on 20th December 2006.
On the 28th December 2006 Islamic Courts soldiers fled the capital, Mogadishu, leaving a power vacuum. There around 250,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) living in scattered camps all over Mogadishu.
Mahamoud Auke, Islamic Relief’s coordinator for southern Somalia, is in the capital at the moment. We spoke to him on the 28th December 2006, after Islamic Courts soldiers fled Mogadishu.
Can you give us some background to the situation in Somalia?
Well Somalia has had no government for the last 16 years - it’s been under civil war. It’s a country of poverty and [has] a lot of difficulties.
For the last 2 weeks there was fighting between the Islamic Courts and the Somali government, supported by the Ethiopian troops. There are now a lot of IDPs and reports of many deaths in Somalia.
What is the current situation in the capital, Mogadishu?
The Islamic Courts lost Mogadishu last night. There is no government at the moment and it’s upside-down. There is no government, no authority and everybody seems to have a gun in town.
There are reports of vehicles being robbed and people can’t go out with mobile phones. Northern Mogadishu has become very warped now, with gangsters manning the streets again.
Surprisingly, people are able to move around Mogadishu, al-hamdulillah. This morning I drove around ten percent of the city. So it’s mostly safe, at least for the time being it’s safe.
And what about the rest of Somalia?
It is only the northern parts, the Puntland and Somaliland, which [are] peaceful and with authority. But southern Somalia is completely in anarchy.
What are the immediate needs of people in Mogadishu and the rest of Somalia?
Most of the immediate needs are related to food and medicine. The poverty level here is very high and people have a lot of problems, especially with regards to war and the recent floods in Somalia.
So there are a lot of needs – in terms of food, in terms of shelter, in terms of sanitation, medicine, it’s a lot.
What work is Islamic Relief doing in Mogadishu?
We opened an office here a month ago and we did intervene in locations where there were floodings about 40km from Mogadishu. We gave food and are planning to give shelter and other things.