Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Springtime rains have started to fall in Mogadishu, sparking worries
among internally displaced persons (IDPs) that heavier downpours could
worsen their misery. "Displaced families living in this camp are
concerned that the temporary shelters that accommodate them might not be
enough to protect against the falling rain," said Fadumo Ali, a
38-year-old mother of five living at the Tarabuunka Camp in Mogadishu's
"So far, rains have not been really heavy so no real damage has been
done in the IDP camps," she told Sabahi. "But in the event that heavy
rain starts to fall as expected, the consequences will be dire for the
IDPs because most of the displaced families are not housed in suitable
refugee camps that can protect them from these rains, making their
situation even worse."
Last year, heavy rains in and around Mogadishu caused deadly flooding
that inundated IDP camps and exposed residents to an outbreak of
cholera. In the past two years, Mogadishu's population of displaced
people living in camps swelled by an influx of 250,000 people seeking
shelter from other parts of Somalia.
"Rain is God's gift, which could be of some comfort to farmers and
herders, but for IDPs who live in the camps of Mogadishu, it brings
nothing but more problems and makes their situation even worse, unless
they get urgent humanitarian assistance," said Dahir Sheikh Ismail, 56, a
manager in the Shabelle River Camp in Mogadishu's Bondhere district.
"If rain falls heavily over the next several weeks, this will lead to
worsening conditions for IDPs," Ismail told Sabahi. He called on the
Somali government and relief agencies "to move quickly to help IDPs and
provide plastic covers and mosquito nets as a matter of urgency".
Most of Mogadishu's IDP camp population lives in huts made of
cardboard and sticks that provide little protection from the cold and
heavy rain. Halimo Ibrahim, 46, who lives at the Bulo Barwaqo Camp in
Warta Nabada district, told Sabahi that she and other internally
displaced people are in dire need of stronger material for their
"We are in need of urgent assistance, especially shelter equipment,
which is the most pressing [need] for the time being," Ibrahim said. "My
seven children and I live in a small hut made of wood and old cardboard
that could not face severe winds and heavy rain."
With the start of the rainy season, Somali
health authorities warn that heavy rains could exacerbate sanitary
problems at IDP camps, in turn increasing the risk of cholera and
diarrhoea outbreaks, authorities said. "Many IDPs in Mogadishu and its
environs, especially women and children, face the risk of being exposed
to diseases that come with rainfall due to bad sanitation in the camps,"
Lul Mohamud, who heads the maternal and paediatric ward at Benadir
Hospital, told Sabahi.
"We have several cases of acute diarrhoea, most of which are among
the displaced population in the camps, and we are extremely worried that
the situation will get worse with more rainfall," she said.
Efforts to repatriate displaced persons:
Local organisations are working around-the-clock to address the
immediate needs of displaced persons, said Ibrahim Muhidin, an official
with the Mogadishu-based Barwaqo Foundation.
"Displaced people live in deplorable conditions and have many needs,
but with the rainy season upon us, Barwaqo is focusing on providing
clean water and plastic covers [for their huts]," he told Sabahi. He
said other local non-governmental organisations and their international
partners are also delivering food aid to camps on a daily basis. But as a
long-term solution, some relief agencies are working to help return
people to their original regions to alleviate the burden in the camps.
Mohamed Idle, deputy director of the Qatari Organisation of Islamic
Co-operation (OIC) in Somalia, said his organisation is working with
several local humanitarian organisations to implement a new initiative
that would repatriate, on a voluntary basis, tens of thousands of IDPs
living in Mogadishu and help them re-settle in their villages.
"[We are] facilitating each family that returns to the area it was
driven out of by providing [transportation and] assistance that could
help them for several months," he told Sabahi. "This assistance includes
a sum of money that would allow the family to survive until they settle
in and become reintegrated in their community and are once again able
to lead a normal life."
"We expect around ten thousand displaced families to benefit from the
humanitarian project and the first part of the plan to repatriate
IDPs," he said.