Violence has soared since the breakdown of talks, pitting Ethiopian soldiers against Islamist insurgents, with civilians often caught in between. On Monday, several civilians were killed in the crossfire, the Associated Press reports.
Hours of fighting in the Somali capital killed at least seven civilians, including three young siblings who were leaving a religious school when a mortar landed nearby, witnesses said Monday.
As the fighting continues, an editorial published this week in Garowe Online, an independent online Somali news organization, warned that Somalia risks falling back into the famine conditions that ravaged the country in the 1990s.
The numbers say it all: by the end of 2008, the United Nations estimates that 3.5 million people in Somalia will be in need of food assistance. This estimate is according to the UN's World Food Program, whose country director for Somalia, Mr. Peter Goossens, told reporters in London on July 18 that parts of Somalia "could be in the grips of disaster similar to the 1992-1993 famine" if sufficient humanitarian assistance is not delivered in the coming months.
There is no question that Somalia, in the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa region, is now facing what many have termed "the worst humanitarian crisis" on the entire continent.