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Oxfam: Somali organizations report of bombings striking innocent civilians

By Oxfam

Nairobi, 12th Jan. 2007: Oxfam is receiving reports from its partner organisations in Somalia that nomadic herdsmen have been hit in recent bombing raids. According to the reports from local organisations in Afmadow district, bombs have hit vital water sources as well as large groups of nomads and their animals who had gathered around large fires at night to ward off mosquitoes.

Further reports have also confirmed that bombings have claimed the lives of at least 70 people in the district.

"These reports must be taken seriously. Under international law, there is a duty to distinguish between military and civilian targets. We are deeply concerned that this principle is not being adhered to, and that innocent people in Somalia are paying the price. These communities are already struggling to survive after a severe drought last year was followed by widespread flooding," said Paul Smith-Lomas, Oxfam's Regional Director for Horn, East and Central Africa.

Today, Oxfam and its partners warned that the recent escalation in violence is making it extremely difficult for aid agencies to reach people in need.

Since late December, violence in Somalia has forced an estimated 70,000 people from their homes, and has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation. Last year, Somalia was hit first by severe drought and then the worst flooding in 50 years, leaving some 400,000 people homeless.

Oxfam partner organizations in the region have been providing communities with emergency medical supplies, essential household items, and water chlorination services, as well as distributing food in areas where food is not locally available.

Oxfam is calling on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

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