Displaced families face bleak future in BaidoaPhoto | A displaced mother carrying her child/ Muhyadin
One month ago, Saadio Abdulkadir, and her eight children were among the fairly well-to-do families in Dolandole, 75 km from Burhakaba town in Bay region.
She did not have to worry about putting food on the table for her four children, nor paying for their school fees.
“We lived in our own house and part of the land was a small farm with crops and a herd of livestock. We lived a good life,” said Saadio, speaking to Radio Ergo.
But life changed abruptly when Somali government troops engaged in battle with Al-Shabaab forces in Dolandole late in July, forcing Saadio and her family to flee for their lives.
An IDP camp on the outskirts of Baidoa became their new home, along with close to 500 other families who had escaped areas that had become conflict zones, including Dinsoor and Idale.
The camp has no clean water supply, no toilets, and no proper housing nor access to health care.
“Life is difficult here - on a good day, we get food once. Our children’s education has been cut short,” said Saadio. Her husband, Ahmed Ali, stayed behind to try to look after the farm in Dolandole, but he had not been able to sell the livestock nor seedlings to send money to help the family.
Most of those who fled are women and children. Most of the men stayed behind, despite their fears, to take care of the livestock and guard the deserted property.
Some families were split up. Anbiyo Adan Ishaq, 56, left behind her four children and feels frantic to know if they are safe.
“I came here with three of my children. I cannot account for another four. I don’t know whether they are alive or dead,” said Anbiyo.
Radio Ergo’s local reporter said conflict was continuing in some of the areas which meant the displaced could not make plans to go home. The joint forces of the Somali government and AMISOM have captured some towns, but the rural areas in between remain subject to raids and ambushes by Al-Shabaab militants.
Many of the newly arrived IDPs expressed fears of having to remain in the camps for years to come, because of the prevailing security situation. Some families in the camps have been there for at least five years.
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