Page last updated at 15:39 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 16:39 UK

Somalia is 'most ignored tragedy'

Mogadishu residents fleeing
Residents continue to flee the city because of insecurity

The world should be shocked at the systematic destruction of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, and its residents, says lobby group Human Rights Watch.

The organisation told the BBC the city had become a zone of free-fire between government and insurgent forces.

It said if such a situation was happening anywhere else in the world, like Georgia or Lebanon for example, it would be considered a travesty.

Instead Somalia was the most ignored tragedy in the world today, HRW said.

Meanwhile, a group of 52 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has issued a statement saying the international community had "completely failed Somali civilians".

The aid groups estimate that almost 40,000 people had been displaced from Mogadishu in the last few weeks, with 1.1 million uprooted in the last nine months.


BBC World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle recently visited Mogadishu and says the city on the Indian Ocean, which was previously one of Africa's trading hubs with the Middle East, is dying.

Bombed out buildings in Mogadishu

Now whole swathes of it are rubble or skeletons of buildings without doors or windows or roofs, he says.

He adds that the most shocking, eerie aspect of it is that in many parts of the capital all the people have fled.

The fighting is between the US-backed government and Islamist and nationalist insurgents, who Washington accuses of having links with al-Qaeda.

There are no international aid workers left as they are threatened with kidnap for ransom or are murdered.

The fighting has been much worse for the ordinary residents of Mogadishu than even the infamous period in the early 1990s that spawned the film Black Hawk Down, a portrayal of US troops killed in Somalia at that time, our World Affairs correspondent says.

In the early 1990s not a night passed without explosions lighting up the sky, he says.

But even that did not empty the capital of Somalia like the daily fratricidal confrontations now taking place between the government and its armed opponents.

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