War and drought force displacement of Hiran families to IDP camps
Saturday September 9, 2023
Recent arrivals in a temporary shelter at an IDP camp/File Photo/Ergo
Iqro Abdi Farah and her 12 children have been struggling to have a proper meal since June when they sought refuge in the Raage-Iidle camp near Beledweyne. They were forced to leave their rural home due to a combination of drought and insecurity.
In their current situation, they rely on the generosity of their relatives and other IDPs for food, which is often insufficient. “We cook whatever we receive from the Muslim people. We have no other source of food. My husband is mentally ill, so who will provide for us? Besides the donations we receive, we have nothing else. That’s how we survive,” she expressed.
Iqro’s family used to be agro-pastoralists in Halgan, where they lost their maize crops and 90 goats due to the severe drought during the past two years.
Tragically, Iqra’s stepdaughter Nasro Dahir, who used to support them financially with her restaurant in Jalalaqsi, was killed along with her children in an explosion in February. This devastating loss impacted the whole family, as Nasro was the main breadwinner.
With their crops and animals gone and the escalating conflict between the government and Al-Shabab making their area unsafe, they made the decision to migrate and join the camp.
They settled in a fragile hut at the entrance of the Raage-Iidle camp, where they have yet to receive any assistance from aid organizations.
Iqro attributes her husband’s current mental state to the family tragedy and the worsening economic situation.
Kamila Ahmed Ibrahim is also struggling in the Raage-Iidle camp with her six children. They were displaced due to conflict and drought in Luuqa-Jeelow village.
“Today, we are grateful to God, but we have no money to buy anything. We can’t even afford salt. That’s our situation. I can’t buy rice, spaghetti, or meat! I am 60 years old, but I still have to work to make ends meet,” she shared.
There are approximately 800 families in the Raage-Iidle camp, most of whom have been displaced by the ongoing violent clashes between the Somali federal government forces and Al-Shabab militia in Buloburde, Moqokori, and Mahas.
Kamila explained the challenges they face in accessing water since there are no wells in the camp. They have to walk about three kilometers to purchase 20 liters of water for 4,000 Somali shillings (less than half a dollar).
“We are experiencing a water shortage. We have to walk to Ifiya and carry the water on our backs. There is no one to help us, so we have to do it ourselves from the well,” she described.
In 2021, Kamila and her family lost 50 goats to the drought. Upon arriving at the camp, she had two emaciated goats left, which she sold for a mere $48, significantly below the normal price for a healthy goat.
Although Kamila is grateful that her children have access to free education, she cannot afford to buy them books and pens. While they are forced to endure life in the dire camp, she often reminisces about their previous life.
The deputy representative for social affairs at the Hiran regional authority, Ali Osman Ali, revealed that over the past 10 months, more than 5,000 individuals have sought refuge in IDP camps in Beledweyne. The increase in displacements is a direct result of the escalating insecurity caused by the government forces’ efforts to eradicate Al-Shabab from the region.
“We are aware of the people being displaced due to the conflicts. We have good knowledge about their situation, but besides providing them with land and monitoring their wellbeing, there is not much more we can do,” he acknowledged.
He highlighted that drought has also played a significant role in driving people into poverty and displacement. The regional authority has established 10 new camps on the outskirts of Beledweyne to accommodate these families. He called upon the Somali government and aid organizations to offer assistance to the displaced families.