A delegation of traditional elders from Mogadishu on Tuesday arrived in Hargeisa to mediate between the Somaliland government and the traditional leaders of the SCC-Khatumo faction in Las Anod, a town plagued by conflict.The mission, led by Ugas Mohamud Ali Ugas, has already visited Las Anod and met with SSC traditional leaders.The delegation is expected to meet with Somaliland leaders, including President Muse Bihi, to discuss ending the three-month-long conflict that has resulted in over 100 deaths and 600 injuries, with many civilians affected.Sultan Hassan, a Somaliland traditional leader responsible for resolving the Las Anod conflict, announced to the media that the traditional leaders have arrived in Hargeisa after spending several weeks in Aynaba, a town in the Sool region.
The elders are scheduled to meet with the Somaliland elders that President Bihi has appointed to engage with their counterparts from Mogadishu.Previous attempts at resolving the Las Anod conflict have been unsuccessful, and Somaliland authorities have restricted media access to the airport to cover the traditional elders’ arrival.As recently reported by Amnesty International, Somaliland security forces indiscriminately shelled the town, causing heavy damage to hospitals, schools, and mosques.Eyewitnesses have reported extensive damage to hundreds of buildings, including residential homes, mosques, schools, and a hospital, caused by Somaliland forces firing rockets from military bases located to the city’s east as part of their efforts to capture the town.
Humanitarian organizations have confirmed that around 154,000 to 200,000 people have fled and been displaced to nearby towns and villages, with some crossing the border to Ethiopia, in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Women, children, and the elderly are among the most affected.In light of the situation, Amnesty International has urged all parties involved in the Las Anod conflict to cease indiscriminate attacks, prioritize protecting civilians, and adhere to established international humanitarian law. The present mediation effort is, therefore, a promising development, and it is hoped that it will help achieve a lasting and peaceful solution to the conflict, thereby safeguarding the well-being of those affected.
The escalating conflict in Las’anod is yet another crisis facing Somalia, a country already grappling with a severe drought and ongoing security challenges. Las’anod city is currently in the midst of a deadly conflict that has resulted in over 170 people being killed and over 500 injured in Las-anod thus far. This includes seven children and their mother. However, the actual casualties and the impact on the civilian population cannot be confirmed so far. More than 50 schools have been closed, affecting the education of over 15,000 children, and an estimated 185,282 individuals have been displaced, as per the interagency assessment report published on February 13th, 2023. According to media reports, residents are in danger of being hit by mortar fire and bullets as the situation remains volatile, and fighting may occur at any moment.