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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Somalia is 'worst refugee crisis'
Displaced children
The UN said displacement in Somalia was worse than in Iraq
More people have been displaced in Somalia in the past two months than anywhere else in the world, the United Nations has said.

Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for UN relief coordinator John Holmes, said at least 350,000 people had fled fighting in Mogadishu since February.

There is also concern for those trapped in the city, where more than 600 have died from acute diarrhoea and cholera.

A BBC correspondent says gunfire has stopped for the first time in 10 days.

AFP news agency is reporting that Ethiopians and government troops are moving house-to-house in northern districts arresting suspected insurgents.

All men are fleeing from the houses because the Ethiopian forces are arresting them
Shamso Nur
Mogadishu resident

However, the city's Coca-Cola factory, opened in 2004, was looted overnight by gunmen in 12 trucks.

"Our offices were broken into and all computers looted. We had supplies of sugar that were supposed to last the whole year - they were also looted," manager Bashir Mohamed Araye told Reuters news agency.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi said his forces were in control of the capital and the worst of the fighting was now over.

Bureaucracy charge

The BBC's Farhia Ali says the sound of mortars and shelling had stopped on Friday morning.

UNHCR map shows where thousands have fled to from Somalia's capital Mogadishu

People were venturing down to the central Bakara market area to check on their businesses and to see if the buildings were still standing, she said.

Meanwhile, there are reports that insurgents are leaving northern districts, captured by Ethiopian troops on Thursday.

"All men are fleeing from the houses because the Ethiopian forces are arresting them," Shamso Nur told AFP.

Another witness said that bodies were being collected from the streets for burial.

The UN had requested that fighting ceased so that aid could be brought in.

Aid is ready and waiting to be delivered to the city, but it cannot be brought in while the fighting is still going on, it says.

'Charged for shade'

Ms Bunker said displacements in Somali had topped those in Iraq, Darfur and Sri Lanka.

"If you look at the situation from February until now, in that one timeframe, more people have been displaced inside Somalia than any place else in the world," she told the BBC.

Somali insurgents

"We are very concerned about the people who have had to flee their homes because of the fighting, but we are also very concerned about those who are still trapped inside the city of Mogadishu."

Earlier Mr Holmes said aid was reaching just 60,000 people. Some 300 people have been killed in the recent clashes, after 1,000 deaths last month, local human rights group say.

The UN refugee agency reports that people are continuing to flee Mogadishu, for the nearby town of Afgooye.

It says that armed robbers are roaming the town, where shop-owners are charging extortionate prices.

The UNHCR has also been told that land-owners are charging refugees to sit under the shade of their trees on the road from Mogadishu.

The Union of Islamic Courts controlled Mogadishu for six months last year - reuniting the capital for the first time since 1991.

They were toppled last December by Ethiopia-backed government forces.

The Islamist fighters have been joined by gunmen from the Hawiye clan, which does not back the government.

Somalia has not had a functional government since 1991.

Peace talks led to the formation of a transitional government in 2004, but it has so far failed to take full control of the country.

Ethiopian troops announced they had begun to withdraw, to be replaced by an African Union peacekeeping force, but only 1,200 of the 8,000 troops the AU says it needs have been deployed.

Heavy fighting on the streets of Mogadishu


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