16 Nov, MOGADISHU-
Fighting between rival federal state forces in the central Somali town of Galkayo has displaced more than 90,000 people, including at least 20,000 children, in the past six weeks, a UN official said Tuesday.
The representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Somalia, Steven Lauwerier, said a large number of the displaced children were living in settlements and that several children were vulnerable.
“This is a very serious situation for the children of Galkayo and is bound to have a major impact on their education and their lives,” Lauwerier said in a statement released in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Galkayo is currently divided into two districts, with Galmudug state governing the southern district and Puntland state the northern one.
The town has been beset by recurrent clashes between Galmudug and Puntland forces, with the latest round killing 45 people, including civilians.
Clashes continued despite a ceasefire signed in Abu Dhabi between Galmudug and Puntland leaders, but relative calm has now returned to Galkayo.
The UNICEF said all schools in Galkayo were closed during the six weeks of fighting, affecting more than 20,000 children and young people.
It said teachers have been injured, four schools damaged and that five schools outside the town are closed as they are now used to house some of the displaced. Any schools still functioning are severely overcrowded.
“We must ensure that there are places for children to learn in a safe environment either in temporary spaces or in schools outside town. The children must be given catch up classes and their schools must be protected from further damage,” Lauwerier said.
The UN agency has teamed up with its partners to set up safe temporary learning spaces for the displaced children. The teams are also working to ensure teachers receive incentive allowances. (Xinhua)