ICRC visits over 300 detainees in Laascaanood following recent clashes

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted its inaugural visit to more than 300 detainees in Laascaanood on Thursday, August 31.

The detainees were captured during the latest bout of confrontations between the Somaliland army and SSC Khatumo forces over last Friday.

On August 25, local SSC Khatumo forces, with the support of Darod clan fighters, took control of the entire Sool and Sanaag regions, effectively ending Somaliland’s 15-year rule in those areas. This conflict, which commenced in February, led to hundreds of casualties and the displacement of nearly 200,000 individuals in the Laascaanood region.

The ICRC conducts visits to detainees on both sides of the conflict. Previous visits have included Hargeisa Central Prison, where detainees from SSC Khatumo are incarcerated. These visits are exclusively humanitarian in nature, aiming to ensure that all detainees are treated with humanity and that their families are aware of their whereabouts.

Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC delegation in Somalia, emphasized, “It is imperative that every detainee, regardless of their affiliation, is accorded treatment in line with international humanitarian law. This means that all detained individuals must have access to food and water, and they must never be subjected to any form of ill-treatment.”

To ameliorate the conditions of detention, ICRC teams have also distributed blankets and mattresses to detention facilities in Laascaanood.

In collaboration with the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), the ICRC facilitated the transfer of four wounded prisoners to Qaran Hospital in Garowe, where they received specialized medical care.

The conflict in and around Las Anod has caused many civilians to lose contact with their family members. Ahmed Said, responsible for ICRC’s operations in the northern part of the country, commented, “The uncertainty surrounding the fate of their loved ones is causing immense distress to the people. Our offices in Hargeisa and Garowe, in conjunction with the SRCS, are actively assisting individuals in locating their family members.”

Fighting between the Somaliland army and SSC Khatumo erupted early this year, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

Laascaanood, the capital of the Sool region, has been the primary battleground, leading to extensive damage to civilian infrastructure.

The ICRC, alongside the SRCS, has provided medical supplies to support local hospitals in the area in treating the injured. Concurrently, the SRCS ambulance response unit has been conducting frontline triage, offering initial medical assistance and subsequently transporting wounded individuals for further care.

Over the past week, 110 injured persons were transported to hospitals, while 42 deceased individuals were collected for the purpose of dignified and proper burials.

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