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No roof in the rain is worse than hunger, says Somali IDP mother in Gedo

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File Photo/Ergo

(ERGO) – Ibrahim Barrow Samow and his 12-member family are sleeping exposed to the elements after torrential rains swept away their makeshift house in southern Somalia’s Gedo region in early October.

The family, along with hundreds of other internally displaced or IDP families, were forced out by the deyr seasonal rains that flooded Jazira and other camps in Luq district, where they have been living for the past three to four years.

“The hut collapsed on us at night, so I fled with the kids to a neighbour’s place. You can imagine two families sharing a small abode with nothing,” he said.

Their host could only offer them a covered corner of his house that does not protect them from the cold as its sides are open. But at least they are faring better than hundreds of other families living out in the open without anything over their heads.

These families came to Luq years ago after being dispossessed by drought that wiped out their livestock and dried up their farms. Aid agencies have been assisting them with food and basic necessities, while some have been working as casual labourers earning menial wages from casual jobs.

Ibrahim’s family came to Luq from Ufurow, Bay region, after losing their herd of 60 goats in the drought. He has no skills that would allow him to earn a living, so the family has been dependent on his wife’s occasional earnings as a house help outside the camp.

“She rarely finds work these days, but on a good day she would normally earn 30,000 Somali shillings, sometimes 40,000, the highest being 60,000 a day,” he said.

Kuulay Ali Mohamed, a mother of nine, is enduring a similar fate. Her family came to Luq three years ago after the drought turned their farm in Wajid district of Bakool region barren.

The destructive torrential rains left them without even a sleeping mat. They are camping out under a tree.

“Not having a roof over your head is sometimes worse than being hungry. We do need food, but at this moment what we need the most is shelter. We don’t have a place for the kids even for a night and we don’t have covers to protect them from the cold,” Kuulay told Radio Ergo.

The head of social services in Luq district, Abdiaziz Sugow Salad, told Radio Ergo that the worst affected were the families who had moved three months ago to a new location after Jazira camp became too congested. They were living in flimsy huts in a low-lying area.

“The rains have affected about 500 families, and the downpours are still continuing. They need shelter the most, so we invite anyone who can assist them with their needs,” he said.

The local authority says it does not have capacity to assist the IDP families and has been asking the host community to take in the destitute families in as a stop gap measure until aid comes.

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