The “very dire” humanitarian crisis in Somalia is the worst in Africa for many years, says Oxfam’s co-ordinator for the failed Horn of Africa state.

Many of its hundreds of thousands of internally-displaced people, the world’s largest such concentration, have little food or shelter, he said.

Mogadishu civilians have been fleeing intense fighting between Islamist guerrillas and pro-government forces.

The exodus is continuing from the capital amid the crackle of gunfire.

The BBC’s Mohamad Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says city-dwellers are taking advantage of a relative lull in the fighting on Tuesday to get out, carrying light belongings in the arms.

Many thousands of people, mainly women and children, have fled to Afgooye, just south of the city where most are sheltering under trees with little to eat or drink, he says.

Hassan Noor, Oxfam’s humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia, told the BBC’s Network Africa programme circumstances in the capital were “very dire”.

“The situation is really appalling,” he said.

“There are hundreds of children all over the area with tubes on their faces and [saline] drips on their hands. Some of them are actually unconscious and suffering from all sorts of diseases, mainly acute diarrhoea and cholera.”

“I have seen the situation in Darfur, northern Uganda, some parts of Congo, but what is actually happening now in Somalia is indeed the worst kind of humanitarian situation in Africa in many years,” he added.

Radical Islamist militia groups, Hisbul-Islam and al-Shabab, have been locked in see-sawing battles in the Somali capital with pro-government forces that have displaced more than 60,000 civilians since 7 May.



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