No shelter or treatment for sick children fleeing rural areas in southern Somalia's Jubaland

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Xerada Saatow ee magaalada Kismaayo/Jaamac Joofane/Ergo Photo | Satow IDP camp in Kismayo/Jama Jofane/Ergo

Radio Ergo 20 April, 2017 KISMAAYO


(ERGO) - Mumino Ibrahim Sabtow, 48, reached the southern Somali port city of Kismayo three days ago after a long and exhausting walk from their village.

Three of her 10 children have been sick with diarrhoea since they arrived and have not been treated.

Mumino told Radio Ergo she and her husband, who were farmers in Barsanguni, decided to walk to Kismayo because there was no water or food in their drought-stricken rural area.

On arrival, her children’s feet were swollen from the walk and dehydration. The only food and water they had was small amounts given by people in the villages they passed through on their way.

Having fled their dry farm in the hope of finding something better, however, they have settled in an overcrowded camp filling up with other displaced families, with neither shelter nor basic services.

Somalia's drought crisis is turning into another disaster involving hunger and rampant disease.

Mumino and her family sleep on cardboard boxes they lay out on the ground at night.

There are around 200 families in Gumeni camp, in Alanley neighbourhood close to the beach. There has been no assistance delivered to Gumeni so far.  

Mumino thinks the spread of diarrhoea is a result of poor hygiene and sanitation in their camp.

“This place does not have toilets so children defecate outside,” she said. “There is only one toilet in the camp and it is shared among those who settled here first [last year]. Adults have to wait to until sunset and go to the beach to help themselves there.”

She took her two sick sons, aged four and six, and her daughter, aged two, to Kismayo hospital but turned back after seeing how long the queue was for attention. Many people had been waiting for hours without yet being attended. Mumino said she had left her other children alone and had to go back to them.

Eighteen children and two adults are currently admitted in Kismayo hospital, which provides free treatment.

There are at least five other children in Gumeni camp who are sick with diarrhoea. The disease is likely to spread given the conditions and lack of assistance available.

“We came here so that we could get food for our children,” said Kaltumo Abdi Aden, who has been in Kismayo for three weeks.

“Together with my children I spend the night outside, and if it rains we do not have a place to seek shelter.”

Kaltumo is able to cook one meal for her eight children in the evening if her husband earns any money from casual labour jobs in the city. The women who came to the city without their husbands mainly ask for some cooked food from local people and other IDPs, who share what little they can.

Committees of  business people and youths in the city sometimes distribute aid collected from local people to the camps that the new arrivals are joining, but Gumeni camp which hosts 200 families, who some of them came last year, is yet to receive any assistance.

According to Maryan Aw Ali, head of the committee for the resettlement of internally displaced people in Jubaland, 12,000 drought-affected families have arrived in Kismayo in the last three months.

She said the situation was worrying and they had been discussing the problems with humanitarian agencies.

The displaced families are farmers and pastoralists from districts and villages in Jubaland including Gobweyn, Bulo-gadud, Jamame, Kamsuma, Jilib, Berhani, and Afmadow.

The exodus of people is all from insecure areas where aid cannot be delivered. 

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