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Drought forces women and children to make perilous journey to camps for displaced

UNICEF Somalia/2017/Elmi
© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Elmi
Children at the UNICEF-supported health and nutrition centre at the sprawling settlement known as KM13 where thousands displaced by the prolonged drought now live.

By Mohamed Elmi, UNICEF Somalia, Communication Officer

Mogadishu Somalia, 16 June 2017 –The prolonged drought in Somalia has led to over 740,000 people leaving their homes in desperate search of food and water – with the vast majority of them women and children.

Many of them come to the sprawling settlement known as KM13 on the outskirts of Mogadishu. UNICEF supports a health and nutrition centre just outside one settlement for those displaced known as Sablale 1.

Sahra and her one and a half year old daughter, Sabirin, who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition recently visited the health centre. Sahra is 30 years old and pregnant with her ninth child. She left her husband back in the village in Qorioley district in Lower Shabelle where they used to rely on their animals and crops, and brought her eight children to KM13.

“Due to drought we lost all of our cattle and weren’t able to harvest anything because the rains have failed for the last two seasons. We had to sell our last goats to pay for transport to Mogadishu,” she said. “We decided to join other families who were travelling to the camp in search of a better life.”

Many of the children at the Sablale camp, home to over 2,000 people, are malnourished and sick. Local families say 80 children have died since it was established two months ago and nearly 500 people arrived in May at the settlement which is named after the area many came from originally.

UNICEF Somalia/2017/Elmi
© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Elmi
Habiba and her baby at the health centre which serves the large population of those displaced by the drought. Over 80 per cent are women and children.

Habiba Mohamed Adan, a 30 year old mother and her eight month old baby Fadumo Osman Hassan, are also at the camp. Fadumo was sick and needed medication so they came to the centre supported by the local NGO Soyda.

Like many other families affected by the drought they lost their animals and the harvest failed. Habiba had to leave her husband behind in their village in Sablale district, Lower Shabelle as he is handicapped and couldn’t make the journey.

After two days of walking she had covered 35 kilometres and was only half way to the camp but she ran out of money. Local residents in the village she arrived in collected funds to help her complete the journey.

“Some families stayed behind because they were expecting the rains to start,” she said. “There are new families joining the camp every day and others are on their way from the village I came from.

“Since we arrived, we have been given food and drink. We hope to get more help while we are here in the camp. Once the rains begin we’ll be able to go back to our village and start our lives again.”

According to UNHCR, since November 2016, over 740,000 people have been displaced in Somalia – and over 80 per cent are women and children. They are very vulnerable particularly to gender-based violence and the children often arrive sick and malnourished at the camps. 



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