Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Displaced children in Puntland, Somalia, have for the first time got a permanent home. Photo: NRC/Astrid Sehl
1500 persons once forced to flee due to armed conflict could today move into their new homes in Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia.
A ceremony in the outskirts of North Galkayo city, marked the official handover of 250 permanent houses to the community in Halaboqad settlement. The joyful event with speeches and children singing was attended by several hundreds formerly displaced persons and members of the host community, the Governor of Mudug Region Mohamed Yusuf Jama, the Mayor of Galkayo, UNHCR Representative Bruno Geddo and NRC Regional Director Hassan Khaire.
“It is a good day witnessing all these families getting keys to their new homes. These people have been uprooted several times and have suffered through years of struggle. Having a permanent home will make it easier to re-establish a dignified life. NRC will continue working with the local authorities to provide durable solutions for displaced people, promote peace building and enhance protection for the vulnerable people in Puntland,” said Hassan Khaire, NRC Regional Director.
Hundreds of people including dignitaries from the Puntland authorities, UN and NRC were today gathered for the official handover ceremony of permanent houses to 250 formerly displaced families. Photo: NRC/Astrid Sehl
1.36 million Somalis are internally displaced in their own country. Of those are 143,000 persons in Puntland; many of whom are living in informal settlements that are overcrowded and congested, facing the risk of being evicted. Two years ago, the residents in the Halaboqad settlement were forcefully evicted from the area they had sought refuge. The housing project is targeting especially vulnerable people, such as single-headed female households, elderly and people with disabilities. One of the families who got keys to their new home today, was a mother of eleven suffering from severe head injuries she got when her house was shelled by mortars during the civil war, and whose husband was blinded in the same attack.
“This beautiful project aims at getting together internally displaced persons originating from other parts of Somalia and local communities in a highly combustible area sitting on a major clan fault line,” said Bruno Geddo, UNHCR Representative for Somalia. “By providing land and issuing each displaced family with an ownership certificate, the North Galkayo municipality went a long way to promoting peaceful co-existence between the two communities and finding a durable solution to a long-standing problem,” Geddo said.
The internally displaced persons have themselves taken an active part in the process. After having completed skill training, they built their own homes in collaboration with local contractors. In addition to the houses NRC, funded through UNHCR, has provided latrines, sanitation kits, and conducted community awareness raising on hygiene and the risk of contracting communicable diseases. An important effort to enhance protection particularly for women and children was to put up 30 solar lighting posts at the main access passageways and within the settlement.
The project also aimed at promoting peace-building between the displaced population and the host community. Participatory meetings including both communities were held, in which it was agreed that 20 of the shelters would be allocated to vulnerable families in the host community. UNHCR solicited funds from the Peace Building Support Office’s (PBSO) Peace Building Fund (PBF) for construction of the permanent shelter and other basic infrastructure in Halaboqad.