SOMALIA: Locals join IDP camps in search of food
IDPs in Waberi District, Mogadishu
NAIROBI, 29 August 2011 (IRIN) - More and more poor residents of Mogadishu are moving into camps set up there to house more than 100,000 people displaced over the last two months from other parts of the country by intensifying drought and the subsequent lack of food and other basic services, say aid workers and civil society representatives.
The number of Mogadishu families moving into camps has sharply increased in the past three weeks, officials say.
"Many of the families moving to camps are not much better [off] than the displaced; no one has reached their areas yet, they therefore decided to move to the camps to access help," Asha Ugas Sha'ur, a prominent member of civil society in Mogadishu, told IRIN.
She said many of the families had lived in areas formerly under the control of the insurgent Al-Shabab group, which withdrew from the city on 6 August.
Some are long-term IDPs and residents who depended on income from daily work. "There are no jobs to be had and no other income," she added.
Sha'ur said some of them had gone for weeks without leaving their homes due to fighting. "Now they are coming out and they have nothing."Attracting the needy
Abdulqadir Omar, the area manager for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), which supports four camps in the Somali capital, with an estimated population of 3,000 families (18,000 people), told IRIN many of the new arrivals were from the city or the outskirts, "where aid has not reached yet".
Many families who were in IDP camps in the 30km-long Afgoye Corridor, which runs south from the city, are moving back to Mogadishu because there was not much help there, he said.
Omar said other families were setting up makeshift shelters inside the camps, a phenomenon known as “bush bariis” (roughly translated as rice huts). They "wait for a food distribution and go back home”, he said. "This in itself is an indication of how desperate people are.”
Ambaro* moved from her residence in the north of Mogadishu into a camp. Her neighbourhood was one of the last places Al-Shabab abandoned. "I moved because staying there meant starvation."
She used to find work in the markets but now they have been abandoned, "and I cannot feed my children. When I heard all those people coming to help the drought people I decided I was going to find help also."
Omar said aid agencies needed to find a way to reach those in need "inside the city and its outskirts".
"With the help given to the drought displaced we don't want to create resentment and hostility toward them," he said.
Reaching people where they are, Omar added, would also cut down on the number of people moving around. "We have huge movement of people and it all has to do with accessing food. If they know we will reach them, they will have no incentive to move."
Kiki Gbeho, head of office at OCHA Somalia, said the objective of the humanitarian community was to bring assistance to people in need wherever they were. "When people move from their homes in search of assistance they become extremely vulnerable and subject to all kinds of violations. The challenges are many, especially as over 100,000 IDPs have moved to Mogadishu in the last two months. We will continue to do all we can to assist them."
*not her real name