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Christian Group Responds to Somalia Conflict

As Somalia’s government struggles to regain control of the land from warlords and Islamic militants, a Christian group has decided to fund an emergency response in the highly insecure region in south-
( [email protected] ) Dec 30, 2006 03:01 PM EST

As Somalia’s government struggles to regain control of the land from warlords and Islamic militants, a Christian group has decided to fund an emergency response in the highly insecure region in south-west Somalia.

Norwegian Church Aid will fund $40,000 for the relief operation to internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Gedo-region with non food items and shelter. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked NCA to monitor the situation in the Gedo-region and coordinate information.

“Nobody has a complete overview over the situation and we do not know the total numbers of IDPs, but we expect that thousands will escape the fighting in Mogadishu and Baidao,” said Bjorg Mide, head of NCA’s Division East Africa, in a statement on Wednesday.

Mide said an NCA team in the Gedo-region is conducting a preliminary first assessment this week to identify the needs of the IDP’s.

Somalia has been plagued with civil unrest for decades including severe clan divisions and conflict with an Islamic fundamentalist group. The country, located on the Horn of Africa, has not had an effective government since 1991. In recent months the Islamists have extended their control across the south.

On Friday, Somalia’s prime minister entered the capital Mogadishu which for the last six months was controlled by an Islamic group who had ruled by sharia law, reported The Associated Press. According to Reuters, Washington says some of the Islamists have link to al-Qaeda.

Norwegian Church Aid has operated in the Gedo region since 1993. NCA has been the only international NGO (non-governmental organization) that has established an office in the region which lacks any form of civil governance. The group’s program in the Gedo region includes both emergency and rehabilitation interventions including food and aid distribution; development oriented interventions in education, water supply and agriculture; and interventions such as HIV/AIDS, FGM (female genital mutilation), and gender based violence.