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Mortar attacks kill four displaced people in Mogadishu; UNHCR alarmed

News Stories, 21 March 2012



© UNHCR/S.Modola

Civilians at a site for internally displaced people in the grounds of a ruined cathedral in Mogadishu in August, which was the last month that the city was attacked with mortars.

GENEVA, March 20 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency on Tuesday expressed concern at a resumption this week in mortar attacks in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu, which claimed the lives of at least four internally displaced people, including two children.

In the first such attack since August last year, mortars landed in a small settlement for internally displaced people [IDP] in the Wardhigley district of the city on Monday morning.

"The target of the attack is believed to have been a hostel housing pro-government forces in the nearby Villa Somalia compound, the presidential palace. But the mortars did not reach their target and instead landed among the IDPs, " UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told journalists in Geneva.

He said the last mortar attack came in August, when anti-government forces withdrew from the majority of districts in the capital. In late 2011, UNHCR released a report, which details what Somalis are seeking in response to violence and focuses on assistance for civilians harmed in warfare.

There is currently no international legal obligation for parties to the conflict in Somalia to make amends to civilians adversely affected by military operations. Among the recommendations of the report, entitled "Civilian Harm in Somalia: Creating an Appropriate Response," is the establishment of a mechanism to track, analyse, investigate and respond to all incidents of civilian harm, including loss of property, limb or life.

"UNHCR calls on all parties to the conflict in Somalia to cease attacks targeting civilians and humanitarian agencies or where there is a high risk of harm to civilians located near the intended target. Monday's attack clearly presented an unacceptable risk," Edwards said

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