(ERGO) – Around 1,800 impoverished internally displaced families living in four camps in Ari-adeye, 32 km north of Lasanod in the northern Somali region of Sool, have not received any food aid in the last six months because of a power struggle among the camp leaders.
On four occasions, aid agencies tried to bring assistance to the struggling families but they were barred from delivery by the 12 camp leaders, representing competing clans, who could not reach a consensus among themselves on how to distribute the aid among the four camps.
The Ari-adeye administration convened a meeting with the camp leaders to seek a solution. According to the commissioner of Ari-adeye, Abdirisaq Abdikadir Abdirahman, they agreed to share the aid based on the clan system. As a result of the agreement, a small number of 250 families judged to be in the worst situation received some food supplies ion 4 July.
Fadumo Ali Ismail, a mother of 12, said she received 60 kg of food including flour, rice, sugar, and cooking oil. She said it would end the hunger they have faced for the last six months, during which time they were sharing food with neighbours, who were fortunate to receive remittances from relatives abroad.
Fadumo told Radio Ergo she has been living in the camp for a year and half after their entire herd of 180 goats died in the drought in Dhiir-goobo village, 20 km east of Ari-adeye. Her husband is unemployed and has no skills to find a job.
Amina Jama Dirir, 25, lives in the camps with her 75-year-old blind father, who is also suffering from mental ill health. Amina said he became ill when the drought killed all his 300 goats and 13 camels. The livestock were the family’s lifeline.
“I don’t know how to help him, I can’t go to work since he needs continuous care. He even needs monitoring to protect him from injuring himself on sharp spiky fence around the house,” Amina said.
Amina also received 60 kg of food on 4 July that is enough for a month. They have been relying on gifts of food from relatives in town.
The IDP families blame the committee of camp leaders for serving their own interests at the expense of the community members. They say the camp leaders’ priority is holding on to power and using it to try to negotiation for more aid, even whilst the people suffer.
Camp leaders are self-appointed officials who wield enormous power across Somalia and normally dictate the terms of distribution of relief supplies.
Baashe Mohamed Canshur, one of the 12 camp leaders overseeing Sihowle camp, told Radio Ergo the last time aid reached them was on 28 May. He said that leaders on the committee could not agree on how to distribute it so it did not reach the needy families.