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Eight aid workers killed in Somalia this year - UN

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places to operate the aid agencies [File photo]

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Attacks on aid workers delivering supplies in Somalia resulted in the death of eight staff and injuries of 12 others between January and September, the UN humanitarian agency said in a report on Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said some 90 violent incidents have impacted humanitarian organizations, resulting in the abduction of 18 people and the arrest and temporary detention of 13 others.

"Collateral damage from terrorist attacks in populated areas of Mogadishu has continued to account for the majority of the deaths and injuries, as well as for the destruction of humanitarian facilities and assets," said the UN agency in its September humanitarian report.

The OCHA decried the number of violent incidents affecting humanitarian organizations in Somalia, saying it has remained high.

The Horn of Africa nation has been mired in conflict since civil war broke out in 1991 and is one of the most difficult countries for relief agencies to operate in.

The terrorist group al-Shabab has been targeting humanitarian workers, sometimes demanding ransom in order to free the hostages, according to media reports.

The UN report said the volatile security situation continues to impact on civilian lives and create a challenging environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, saying active hostilities in Lower Shabelle continue to cause displacements and disrupt humanitarian programming.

"As parties to the conflict continue to temporarily take control of smaller towns and villages -- holding them for short durations that range from a couple of hours to a few days -- the resultant anxiety and unpredictable security situation led to increased displacements," said the report.

According to OCHA, humanitarian organizations operating in the affected locations have been forced to scale down their activities or suspend operations after over 34,000 civilians fled areas of Lower Shabelle in the past two months.

This comes as Somalia's Minister of Planning Gamal Mohamed Hassan has informed the NGOs to relocate to Mogadishu from 1st January 2019 amid worsening security situation in the country.

In May this year, a German nurse, Sonja Nientiet working for International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was abducted in what local security officials believe to be an inside job involving at least one of the personnel guarding the ICRC compound in Mogadishu.

Nientiet's whereabouts have not been heard from since her abduction.

Though this is the first kidnapping of a foreign aid worker in Somalia in nearly 10 years, the country remains particularly dangerous for humanitarian personnel.

According to the United Nations, at least 30 humanitarian workers were killed in 2016 and 2017 in Somalia.

Garowe Online has contributed to this report.