NAIROBI, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- At least 258 people have been killed and 80,000 others displaced this year by violence in Somalia which sharply escalated in January resulting widespread destruction, a UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.
The UNHCR said in a statement issued here that some 29,000 people have been uprooted by heavy fighting in Dhusamareebb in Galgaduud region, over 25,000 have fled their homes to escape renewed clashes in Beledweyne in Hiraan region, while another 18, 000 are known to have been displaced in the on-going conflict in the capital, Mogadishu.
"According to local sources, intense clashes between government forces and militia groups fighting for control of the conflict- torn central regions have left at least 258 civilians dead and another 253 wounded, which makes January the deadliest month since last August," it said.
"We estimate that more than 80,000 Somalis have been displaced since the beginning of the year. Thousands were also forced to leave their homes in other parts of Somalia."
The UN agency said the deteriorating security conditions have so far made it hard for humanitarian workers to access the needy population.
UNHCR plans to distribute emergency relief items and shelter material to over 18,000 people in 27 locations where the displaced are temporarily settled around Dhusamareebb and Belet-Weyn as soon as the security situation will permit.
UNCHR said the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Galgaduud region face difficult conditions. Fearful of returning to their homes, many are reported to be sleeping in the open with dwindling shelter and little water.
There are also growing concerns about the health conditions of particularly vulnerable groups - such as children, women and elderly.
More than 1.4 million people are internally displaced in Somalia and some 560,000 Somalis live as refugees in the neighboring countries. In 2009, over 120,000 Somalis sought refuge mainly in Kenya, Yemen and Ethiopia.