Feeding centres closed amid heavy fighting

Ongoing conflict in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, has led to the closure of many feeding centres across the city, putting pressure on already crowed camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) as more and more people flee their homes, say local officials.

"We are receiving more IDPs in the camps [along the road linking Mogadishu to Afgoye] that are already crowded; those arriving are not getting any help, only the older IDPs receive relief aid," Jowhar Ilmi, an IDP spokesperson, told IRIN on 23 July.

Ilmi said most of the camps lacked water and adequate sanitation facilities.

Moalim Mohamud Saney Warsame, deputy mayor of Mogadishu's Wadajir district, which most of the newly displaced have fled in the past month, said most feeding centres had closed due to continued fighting between government troops and Islamist insurgents.

"Those who have been displaced recently are facing a severe humanitarian crisis because aid agencies have difficulties reaching them," Warsame said. "Our capacity to help these people is limited; I call upon the international community to intervene in this situation."

Mohamed Abdi Hashi, an official of one of the feeding centres, the Darman group, said at least 5,500 people - mostly women and children - were benefiting from the centre in Wadajir before it closed in early July.

"We closed the feeding centre due to violence," he said. "We didn’t receive prepared food from aid agencies. We get people turning up at the centre daily, carrying plates, but we have nothing."

Asha Sha’ur, a civil society representative in Mogadishu, said almost 90 percent of Mogadishu residents were displaced. "We can’t tell what is going on here, heavy shelling goes on every night."

She added that local relief workers were trying to help the displaced "but our ability is small".

Aid alternatives

Fartun Mohiyadin Ahmed, who is taking care of 20 family members, told IRIN they had all depended on the feeding centre in Wadajir.

"I don't know what the future holds for us now that the centre is closed; I am especially worried because my children are sickly; they are coughing and have measles. I am losing hope," Ahmed said.

An official of the UN World Food Programme (WFP-Somalia), which provides food aid to hundreds of thousands of Somalis, said most of the 16 feeding centres it had been supplying had closed down due to insecurity.

Mohamed Hassan Guled, WFP's information officer, said the agency was aware of the closures and was assessing the situation.

"We are considering alternative ways of providing food aid, such as transferring the feeding programmes to peaceful areas; but still we are monitoring the situation," Guled said.