Painting a grim picture of the situation in conflict-ridden Somalia, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator has appealed to the Security Council to step up its efforts to quell the violence in Somalia.
"Otherwise, I fear the worst," John Holmes, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said in his briefing to the 15-member body on Monday on his recent visit to Somalia and Northern Uganda.
Affirming that the UN has a responsibility "not to turn its back on Somalis in their latest hour of desperate need," Holmes said there has been recent massive displacement following the worst fighting in the 16 years the East-African country has gone without a functioning government.
This has compounded the miseries of chronic food insecurity, alternating droughts and floods and endemic disease, he said.
As the highest-ranking UN official to visit the country since the early 1990's, Holmes said his discussions with leaders of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) - notably President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedhi -- were complicated by disagreement on the severity of the crisis.
According to UN figures, 340,000 people, roughly one-third of the capital's population, have fled the hostilities in Mogadishu since the start of February. The TGF officials claimed that only 30,000 to 40,000 had been displaced and most had already returned.
At the same time, Holmes said President Yusuf had accepted his proposal of a visit to Somalia by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to look into reports of indiscriminate use of force in civilian areas, arbitrary detentions and disappearances, and other human rights violations.