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People flee Garowe
NAIROBI, 23 Nov 2001 (IRIN) - Families are fleeing their homes in Garowe, the regional capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, in fear of renewed fighting, a local journalist told IRIN. They are doing so because of reports of militia approaching the town, and the fear of more clashes, Muhammad Sa'id Kashawito of Midnimo Radio said on Friday.

He said some of the people had reached the region's commercial capital, Bosaso, 480 km north of Mogadishu. "They are fleeing in all directions, but mostly to towns close to Garowe." There were reports of more militia moving toward the town, he said. "People are talking of a convoy of 60 vehicles moving toward Garowe."

Another source in Garowe told IRIN the town was almost empty and that "people are taking their children and families out to safer places". The source said most businesses were closed, but telecommunications, which had been cut on Wednesday, were back on Friday. Garowe was captured on Wednesday by forces loyal to the region's former leader, Col Abdullahi Yusuf from those of the recently elected president of Puntland, Jama Ali Jama.

The forces of Jama Ali Jama and others opposed to Abdullahi Yusuf were reportedly mobilising, and "there is a real fear of a major confrontation inside Garowe" within the next day or two, the source told IRIN. The source said Abdullahi's forces were in control of the town, but he himself was reported to be in Ligle village, seven kilometres south of Garowe.

Meanwhile, UN agencies have condemned the fighting and called for the protection of civilians and for continuing humanitarian access, a press release from the office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, said on Thursday. It said a pattern of peace was gradually emerging in Somalia, and that the recent outbreak of violence was a setback. "UN plans to bring international staff back to parts of the region this week after a three month suspension have been put on hold again, because of the fighting in the region."

UN agencies and the Somalia Aid Coordination Body members were very concerned about any actions that could worsen the already fragile humanitarian conditions of Somalia, and "call upon all parties to the current conflicts in Somalia to exercise maximum restraint", said the statement.
This report From (IRIN)
Copyright © 2001 By Qandala