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21 July 2011

SOMALIA: Displaced by drought, hit by rain


Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN - Many of the drought-displaced lack access to shelter, food or water in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, 21 July 2011 (IRIN) - Heavy rains have fallen in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, making life harder for thousands of people displaced by drought who cannot find shelter, officials said.

"About 10,000 families displaced by the drought from Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba and Upper Juba regions, who have come to Mogadishu, are now in a serious situation," Aden H Ibrahim, Minister for Health in Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), told IRIN. "They are without shelter, food, water, health facilities as well as latrines. These families are in 50 camps in the capital."

More drought-affected people have continued to arrive in Mogadishu daily. On 20 July, the UN declared a famine in Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions. Across the country, nearly half the population - 3.7 million people - are now in crisis, an estimated 2.8 million of whom are in the south.

"The government is doing its best, but the problem is beyond its capacity," the minister added. "For this reason we are calling on the international community to help with Somalia's drought-caused catastrophe."

According to the TFG, thousands of people in the south have died in the past few months from causes related to malnutrition, most of them children. Because of consecutive droughts and ongoing conflict, Somalia's malnutrition rates are now the highest in the world, with peaks of 50 percent in parts of southern Somalia.

Long distances

Most of the drought-displaced who made it to Mogadishu, according to Mohamed Abrone, chairman of Taleh settlement for the displaced, are from four of the eight south-central regions: Bay, Bakool, Lower Juba, Upper and Lower Shabelle. The hardest-hit areas in these regions are the districts and villages of Qansadheere, Xabaal Barbaar, Ufurow, Afgoye Yare, Roobay, Diinsoor, Saakow, Gurabay, Juweri, Il-Baate, Gaduuday, Deemay and Ceel-wareegow.

"Coming from that far distance, some walked all the way from their villages, taking 15 days, while others paid about 500,000 Somali shillings [US$16.66] after losing all their livestock during the two years of consecutive drought," he said.

Not much aid has reached the displaced in Mogadishu. Abdi-Kadir Mohamed Hirabe, deputy director of Al-Ri'aya (Daryeel), a local NGO working with a Kuwaiti NGO, said the group had distributed food to 100 drought-displaced families in the capital.

"We have distributed rice, flour and cooking oil in amounts we think will last them about 20 days," he said.

According to the TFG's Ministry of Family affairs, an estimated one million people are facing starvation in Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle and Gedo regions in southern Somalia.

"The starving people, estimated at about one million, are in a serious situation," Fadumo Hassan Ali, the ministry's deputy minister, told IRIN in Mogadishu. "Each of the camps of Xamar-weyne and Kanisada [in the city] hold at least 300 families. The ministry distributed some money to 1,450 families in Mogadishu, each family receiving $5 for five days' meals."

That is still not enough for the drought-affected IDPs.

"We have nothing, our animals were lost," Mohamed Abrone, a father of five, told IRIN at Taleh camp, near Km4. "We came to Mogadishu in search of survival; even though some local people have supported us by giving us food, we remain without shelter, water, latrines or anything else."

- IRIN