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30 July 2011

SOMALIA: Hundreds of drought-displaced seek shelter in Somaliland


Photo: Contributor/IRIN Drought-affected families have fled many areas of south-central Somalia (file photo)

LAS-ANOD, 29 July 2011 (IRIN) - Hundreds of families from south-central Somalia who have sought refuge in the self-declared independent Republic of Somaliland lack food, shelter and water, say local officials.

Most of the 276 families (about 1,650 people) are in the town of Las-anod in Sool region, neighbouring south-central Somalia.

"At least 10 families arrive in Las-anod daily; some pass through to other towns in Somaliland but many remain here," Khadra Mohamed, secretary-general of Somaliland's internally displaced persons (IDP) organization, told IRIN. "Some of the new arrivals are [staying] with conflict-displaced Somalis who have been living in the town for the last several years. These people have no food or shelter.

However, Mohamed said, local communities have been providing food aid to the new arrivals.

"These families have little access to health services, some of them lost their children during their long journey to Somaliland,” Mohamed added.

Abdillahi Jama, governor of Sool region, told IRIN: "Those arriving are registered by local NGOs who inform us weekly. In the past three days, for example, between 10 and 20 families have arrived in Las-anod. Most end up living with families who have been displaced by past conflict in south-central Somalia, expanding the number of people per IDP family to 10-20.

"We collect some assistance from the local people and encourage them to help, because they are our brothers and sisters displaced by the drought," Jama said. "Our capacity is limited and we can do little to help them."

Zainab H. Mohamoud, head of the Gashan Women’s Umbrella Organization, said in Buroa, Togdheer region, several families had fled drought; some went to Hargeisa and others to the town of Buhotle in Buhotle region.

Mohamoud told IRIN that at least 23 families from south-central Somalia reached Buroa, 70 people had reached Buhotle and 12 went to Hargeisa.

UNICEF appeal

Meanwhile, in Nairobi, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) issued a statement on 29 July appealing for immediate life-saving interventions for an estimated one million Somali children, the majority in southern Somalia.

“The children of southern Somalia desperately need our help; too many of them have already died and many others are at great risk unless we act now,” said Rozanne Chorlton, the UNICEF Somalia representative. “Families shouldn’t have to leave their homes, mothers and their children shouldn’t have to endure days of perilous journey in search of food and water and then face a life of uncertainty in a camp. All our energy should be focused on saving lives.”

According to UNICEF, an estimated 1.25 million children across southern Somalia, 640,000 of them acutely malnourished, urgently need life-saving interventions.

To reach children as quickly as possible, the agency said, it had, with its partners, mounted a massive scale-up of its operation and was using "all avenues available" to get supplies into the region.

So far, UNICEF has airlifted supplementary feeding supplies for 65,000 children to the drought-affected regions of southern Somalia.

- IRIN