Intense fighting in northern Mogadishu has made that section of the capital a ghost town, according to an update from Doctors Without Borders in Nairobi. “Continuous shelling, explosions, and open combat among various armed groups have claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and plunged the city into chaos,” Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, said in a statement.
Fighting between the extraordinarily frail Transitional Federal Government and Islamist fighters from al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam continues to rage. More than 200,000 people have fled recent violence in the capital, running toward dire circumstances in towns outside the city. According to MSF:
The population is terrorized, and in the past two weeks the number of dead and wounded has drastically increased. It has become impossible to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to those in need.
In Somalia – where violence and anarchy have defined daily life for years, and fewer and fewer journalists are able to report from inside the country’s borders – it can be difficult to gauge the relative severity of the conflict on the ground. However, MSF notes that this is the first time in 17 years working in the capital that violence has forced them to vacate their hospitals in northern Mogadishu, a move that has left thousands without necessary medical care.