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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
50,000 civilians flee conflict in Somalia's north: UN official

GAROWE, Somalia Nov 12 (Garowe Online) - A United Nations delegation led by the humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mr. Eric Larouche, landed in the self-governing state of Puntland Monday to discuss with local authorities relief efforts for civilians displaced by recent warfare.

The UN delegation landed at Conoco airstrip in the outskirts of Garowe, the capital of Puntland.

After a brief tour, the delegation was ushered to the Garowe State House where they held lengthy discussions with Puntland officials, including President Mohamud "Adde" Muse and Vice President Hassan Dahir Afqura.

Today's meeting was centered on the recent flare-up of conflict in Las Anod, the provincial capital of Sool.

Separatist troops from the breakaway Somaliland region captured Las Anod on October 15 after Puntland security forces retreated east towards Garowe. Puntland, which functions as a federal state within Somalia, had controlled Las Anod since 2002.

That single-day battle and subsequent weeks of instability in the region forced at least 50,000 people to flee the town, according to UN officials at the Garowe meeting.

Various UN agencies have prepared relief efforts for the displaced people, who are scattered at some 40 locations throughout the region. The relief effort will be focused primarily on providing the displaced families with access to clean water, food and medicines, aid officials said.

The relief effort for victims of the Las Anod conflict will commence "very soon," said UN officials who refused to give any specific timeframe.

Garad Jama Garad Ali
Meanwhile, the Somaliland military redeployed the bulk of its armed forces to the outskirts of Las Anod due to growing local hostilities, an independent journalist in Las Anod said.

The troops, who were sent into Las Anod last week to clear off roads, were repositioned at an area roughly 12km east of the town, where they can defend from a possible Puntland counterattack.

An elder in Las Anod who spoke with Garowe Online on the condition of anonymity said Somaliland politicians, including those from Sool region, are "extremely worried" about an upcoming clan convention in the town of Bo'ame, east of Las Anod.

The Dhulbahante clan, the dominant community in Sool, is planning to hold a clan convention in Bo'ame to discuss the precarious situation. The convention was called for by Garad Jama Garad Ali, the highest-ranking traditional elder of the Dhulbahante clan.

Garad Jama reportedly told local media that the Bo'ame conference will be "independent of [both] Somaliland and Puntland."

Since their arrival in Las Anod, Somaliland troops have had a difficult time maintaining order in a city where hundreds of locals took to the streets in opposition to Somaliland's ideology of separating from Somalia.

Puntland Vice President Afqura has said that the "only way to avoid bloodshed" in Sool region is for Somaliland to withdraw its forces.

Somaliland and Puntland have fought several times over control of Sool and Sanaag regions, but the centerpiece of that conflict has remained Las Anod.

Source: Garowe Online

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