SOMALIA: Life getting harder for Mogadishu displaced
An internally displaced person in Somalia (file photo)
NAIROBI, 9 November 2009 (IRIN) - Heavy rain, lack of medical services, few latrines and reduced aid have worsened the plight of the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camping on the outskirts of Mogadishu, sources said.
"We have two clinics in the area covering over 30 camps, with an average population of 550 families (3,300 people) per camp," Hussein Ali Mohamed, a doctor with the UK-based charity Islamic Relief, said.
"I am seeing more and more cases of malnutrition and water-related diseases," he added. "There are not enough latrines and those that there are, are being used by three or four times the number of people they were designed for in 2007."
"You have people weakened by lack of food and poor health with minimum shelter," Mohammed told IRIN on 9 November, adding that the main problems were respiratory tract infections and diseases related to malnutrition.
"Yesterday [8 November], a two-year-old boy weighing 3.5kg was brought to the clinic… Normally he should have weighed over 10kg. Unfortunately, that is becoming more frequent than in the past."
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates there are some 900,000 IDPs in the Mogadishu-Afgoye corridor. Virtually all of them are in camps of one sort or another.
Asli Aden, a 30-year-old mother of four, has been an IDP in the Arbiska area, 20km south of Mogadishu, since 2007. While visiting the clinic with her sick child, she told IRIN that life in the camps was becoming even more difficult.
Food aid cut
In 2007 when she first came to the camps, her family used to get 100kg of sorghum, 10kg of beans, 10kg of porridge and 3ltr of cooking oil each month from aid agencies.
"First they reduced it [sorghum or maize] to 75kgs per month, and about four months ago they cut all food aid by half so that we now get 37kg of maize or sorghum, 5kg of beans, 5kg of porridge and 1.5ltr of cooking oil," she said. "Now, we don’t get oil or beans. I don’t know what we will do but it is getting harder and harder to feed the children."
The plastic sheeting covering her makeshift home also had so many holes in it that it no long provided shelter from the rain. "Some nights, when it rains, we have to move to the corrugated-iron sheet latrines for shelter," she explained.
Aid agencies in Somalia have recently said they needed more money but some donors are holding back, concerned at where resources might end up in areas too dangerous
for international staff.
Many IDPs also used to go to Mogadishu to look for work and return to the camps with some earnings to supplement aid handouts. "Now because of the deteriorating security conditions many are afraid to go," Jowahir Ilmi, head of local NGO Somali Women’s Concern, said.
Health & Nutrition,
Water & Sanitation,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]