LAsAnod (Caasimada Online) – The conflict between security forces and clan members in the Somaliland region of Somalia has claimed the lives of at least 96 people in the past two weeks, as reported by the director of the main hospital in LasAnod.
The hospital has also treated 560 wounded individuals. The senior clan chief had earlier claimed that the number of dead was 150, with 500 injured.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been acknowledged internationally.
Despite being perceived as a stable region in an otherwise tumultuous area, Somaliland has recently seen a surge in political tensions. The unrest has caused violence between government forces and pro-Somalia militias, resulting in the current conflict.
The fighting began on February 6 in LasAnod, a town that both Somaliland and Puntland, a semi-autonomous state of northeastern Somalia, claim.
The UN reports that more than 185,000 individuals have been displaced due to the violence.
On Thursday, eyewitnesses and clan leaders reported heavy fighting in LasAnod, with the town being bombarded by artillery and mortar shells. Hospitals have also been targeted, with the main hospital in LasAnod sustaining severe damage.
Women and children comprise an estimated 89% of the displaced population, with many forced to seek shelter under trees or inside schools that have been forced to shut.
The UN’s refugee agency also revealed that over 60,000 individuals have fled to Ethiopia’s Somali region to escape the violence.
In response to the situation, the UN has called on authorities to conduct a “credible and impartial investigation” into the clashes, warning that the humanitarian crisis in the region is already fragile.
Somaliland, with a population of 4.5 million, is a former British protectorate that prints its own currency issues its own passports, and elects its own government.
However, the lack of international recognition has left it impoverished and isolated. Despite this, it has been comparatively more stable than Somalia, which has been marred by civil war and Islamist insurgency for several decades.