AFRICA/SOMALIA - Peace talks for the serious humanitarian crisis in Las Anod

Monday, 6 March 2023

Las Anod (Agenzia Fides) - Peace talks are underway to put an end to the fighting that does not seem to have subsided around the town of Las Anod, capital of the Sool region in southeastern Somaliland, about 1000 km northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
"Somaliland troops have been asked to stop bombing civilians and stop the war", Sonkor Geyre, president of the Institute of Federalism and Security Analysis in Mogadishu told Fides, regarding the peace talks between the parties, also mediated by neighboring Ethiopia, spokesman for the Security Council. "We are facing the most serious humanitarian crisis these regions have ever experienced and the situation is getting worse day by day. International media attention is very limited and we are counting on the ongoing peace processes for a rapid resolution of the conflict and to restore peace".
Fighting between Somaliland troops and local militias from the Dhulbahante clan, which is demanding autonomy, resumed on 6 February. However, tensions had already been present since December 26, 2022, after the assassination of a local opposition politician, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi, which sparked anti-government protests across the city.
The humanitarian situation is likely to get worse - explains Geyre. This is why the international community, the Federal Government of Somaliland, the Ethiopian government and the local clan authorities are trying to facilitate dialogue between the Somaliland government and the local traditional authorities of Las Anod, which seek the creation of a new reunified region within the Somali federal government."
The former British colony of Somaliland says the rebel town of Las Anod falls under its jurisdiction, while local militias have vowed to continue the fight against what they call "the occupying forces". The crisis for control of the city risks triggering an unprecedented conflict in the region. Many refugees fled to neighboring Ethiopia and the former Italian colony of Puntland.
"The news from the city is dramatic," said Kiki Gbeho, deputy special envoy for the United Nations assistance mission in Somalia. About 70% of the city is destroyed, the fighting has not spared the health facilities, there are approximately 150 dead, 600 injured and 185,000 displaced persons, 89% of whom are women and children".
"We are counting on more humanitarian aid to facilitate the reconstruction and the return of the many people displaced by these weeks of conflict" - concludes Geyra. (SG) (Agenzia Fides, 6/3/2023)