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Last Updated: Monday, 22 August 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Somalia's violence 'catastrophic'
Child surrounded by militiamen
Most of the victims of Somalia's violence are women and children
The lives of Somalis continue to be blighted by a "catastrophic" level of daily violence and "brutality", says a report by a medical charity.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says that in the town of Galcayo alone, it has treated more than 500 victims of violence this year.

It runs two hospitals in the town, which is divided into two areas, controlled by rival warlords.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government for 14 years.

A transitional parliament was sworn in on 22 August 2004 but this has failed to end the anarchy.

'Frightening'

In its northern Galcayo hospital, MSF treated 224 people for gunshots, 135 for knife wounds and another 38 from physical assault in the first six months of 2005.

It treated 106 people for gunshot wounds between January and March in its hospital in the south.

Facts and figures about life in Somalia

Most of the victims are women and children.

MSF says that Somalia has one of the worst rates of child mortality in the world.

More than 10% of children die at birth and 25% of those who survive perish before they are five, the aid agency says.

"The suffering of the Somali people has received little attention from aid organisations and the international community," MSF says.

Galcayo is on the frontline between the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and the rest of Somalia but there have not been organised attempts by either sides to attack the other for several years.

"The frightening fact is that Somalia is officially not even at war," explains the MSF head of mission in Galcayo, Colin Mcllreavy.

"This level of violence is simply a reflection of the brutality of everyday life for the people living in this country. Extreme violence has become a part of daily existence and the effect on the population is catastrophic."

Somalis return

A year after hopes were raised by the inauguration of a new parliament, many analysts fear that this attempt to bring peace to Somalia will fail like 13 previous peace processes.

The government has split into two camps over where it should be based after leaving Kenya.

President Abdullahi Yusuf says the capital, Mogadishu, is too dangerous and has set up in Jowhar.

However, a group of ministers, MPs and ex-warlords led by speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden insist that the government must be based in the capital.

Three months after leaving Kenya to return to Somalia, Mr Yusuf, Mr Aden and Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi are all back in Nairobi.


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