GENEVA - The number of people fleeing the war-battered Somalia capital Mogadishu more than tripled in July from the previous month, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday.
Over 21,000 abandoned the city in July against 6,000 in June, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a news conference here.
In the first phase of fighting in the city between the militia and government troops between February and May, some 400,000 people left the capital and only 125,000 have returned since, he said.
The displaced, housed in camps outside the city, said life in Mogadishu was "worse than ever," and underlined that daily violence made their return impossible, Redmond said.
"Mothers cannot find food for their children and people cannot find work. The displaced also complain that their children cannot go to school," Redmond said.
The UN children's agency said the majority of the displaced were children, women and the elderly, and underlined its "grave concern" on the impact the conflict was having on minors.
UNICEF spokeswoman Veronique Taveau said 20 children had been killed in the violence last month and added that unexploded bombs and other devices were a constant hazard.
Since being defeated earlier this year, insurgents have carried out almost daily guerrilla-style attacks on government forces as well as the Ethiopian and African Union troops supporting them.
The Islamic Courts Union, which briefly took control of large parts of the country last year, is boycotting ongoing reconciliation talks in the city.