Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

Somalia: Drought IDPs forced to flee fighting in border town

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 22 September 2011
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Somalia: Drought IDPs forced to flee fighting in border town, 22 September 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e7c5bf12.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Hundreds of displaced families taking refuge from the drought in a town on the Kenya-Somalia border have been forced to flee fighting between forces loyal to the Somali administration and Al-Shabab insurgents, said locals.

The fighting broke out on 11 September in the town of Eil Waq in Somalia's southwestern Gedo region.

"Our estimate is that 5,700 families [34,200 people] were displaced by the fighting," Mohamed Ahmed Baadiyow, the team leader of Dialog Forening (DF), an NGO based in Eil Waq, said.

Baadiyow said many of those who fled had initially come from the famine-stricken regions of Bay and Bakol while others were from other parts of Gedo.

The UN estimates that four million Somalis need assistance, mostly in south-central Somalia, which has been the hardest hit by famine and drought.

Baadiyow said the displaced were now scattered in villages on both sides of the border; they had not returned to Eil Waq, despite a lull in the fighting in the past few days.

"There are constant rumours that the fighting will resume any time and people are afraid," he said. "It is that fear [of violence] that is keeping them away and in areas where they have no access to any assistance."

A local journalist told IRIN that Eil Waq was one of the places Al-Shabab was likely to target. "They are now targeting areas where they think defence is weak and Eil Waq and many other small towns in Gedo fit that." 

< He said the group seemed to be more interested "in creating fear and uncertainty than actually holding territory".

No access to aid

Adan Abdi Adan, a medical worker in Eil Waq, said many of the displaced were already weakened by the drought and living in terrible conditions.

"Many of the children are suffering from respiratory diseases and diarrhoea and hunger-related diseases," he said, adding that access to healthcare in Eil Waq was minimal, "but now they are in areas where there is nothing".

Mohamed Xirsi Dheere, an elder, said the community was coping and supporting one another; "the problem is reaching some of the displaced".

Dheere said the UN World Food Programme (WFP) had provided food rations to some of the people "but only to those that could be reached". Some people who had fled to villages near the town had come back just to get the rations and then left again. "It is the uncertainty about the security situation that is the root cause of our problem."

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