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IDPs plead for help in southern town

IDPs in Hiran, Southern Somalia. June 2008.
(Abdullahi Salat/IRIN)

Displaced Somalis living on the outskirts of the southern coastal town of Merka, 100km south of Mogadishu, held a demonstration on 3 September to call attention to their plight.

"We are appealing to aid agencies and Somalis living outside to come to our assistance. Our children are dying and no one seems to care," said Amino Sheikh Ali, a camp resident.

Between 700 and 1,000 families (4,200-6,000 people), most of them women and children who fled violence in Mogadishu, have settled in the area, said Abdulkadir Osoble, a community leader.

"I have been in this camp for four months and no agency has come to help. That is why we are appealing to them and everybody else - we are here and we are suffering," Ali, a mother of six, said.

Rain and lack of shelter had made matters worse. "We are at the mercy of the rains," she added.

Khadijo Ali, a 26-year-old mother of three, told IRIN she arrived in Camp Buur Bishaaro in August. "One of my children died in the camp; I am now worried for the remaining three," she said.

"I collect firewood and sell it in Merka. Some days I get enough to cook one meal, but there are days when we don’t eat at all."

Osoble said four people, including two children, had died in the two camps this year. "Some of the children had swollen limbs and stomachs, a sure sign of malnutrition."

Ali said the displaced were in desperate need of water, shelter material and food for children, adding that the water problem was most acute.

But despite the desperate situation in the camps, IDPs were still arriving in the area from Mogadishu, said Osoble.

Violence is continuing in Mogadishu, with insurgents attacking Villa Somalia (the presidential compound) on 3 September. This triggered fierce fighting with government forces backed by Ethiopian troops.

"The fighting went on for about an hour and at least 12 people died,” said a local journalist. Hundreds of families living near the compound were displaced.

He said heavy rains pounding the city on 4 September seem to have silenced the guns. But with insurgents promising to intensify their attacks during Ramadan, "it is unlikely that the silence will last", he added.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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