Home IDPS/REFUGEES Conflict forces well-off Lower Shabelle families to flee to IDP camps

Conflict forces well-off Lower Shabelle families to flee to IDP camps

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Some of the displaced families sitting under a tree in Bangala camp/Naimo Saeed/Ergo

(ERGO) – Life was good for Mohamud Ahmed – he had livestock and a small farm, and his family was prospering in their village in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, until conflict tore everything apart.

Mohamud Ahmed’s family reached Bangala displacement camp in Deynile district of Mogadishu on 2 March, after fleeing their home in Yaqbariweyne, in Wanlaweyn district.

They are now surviving on one meal a day that is delivered by the IDP authorities, who collect contributions from among the camp’s 400 longer established residents.

“We have been getting tea and rice boiled in water from the camp chairlady for the past few days. Our biggest worry is the uncertainty of how long this food distribution will continue,” said Mohamud.

Mohamud and his family are among a wave of an estimated 500 families displaced by a fresh upsurge in fighting in the villages of Yaqbariweyne, Jirakullow and Abdigurey in Wanlaweyn district, who have arrived almost empty handed in IDP camps in Deynile and Kahda districts of Benadir region.

He said they had no shelter in the camp and were sleeping outside on pieces of cardboard they use as mats.

Mohamud said he and his wife and two children, as well as other newly arrived families, were eating one meal a day that is collected by the camp authorities from donations by some of the 400 existing residents.

“I was a wealthy man before the conflict erupted,” Mohamed told Radio Ergo.

“My house was attacked twice by armed men, my farm was torched, and my livestock were looted, which forced me to flee.”

Before being displaced by the conflict in his area, Mohamud’s family earned a living from the sale of milk from their two cows and 10 goats.  He sold the milk in Marka town, earning three and a half dollars a day. He also had a small farm growing sesame and beans that he used to sell and was buying more livestock with the profits.

The area has been experiencing ongoing conflict between rival clans in the past years, but the current conflict pits the local clans against Al-Shabab forces. Fighting erupted in early January.

There are hundreds of other families whose lives have been disrupted and forced to flee their homes and property.

Kaltun Ali Yusuf and her family of seven arrived in Bangala IDP camp on 1 March, after fleeing Jirakullow, where she had two houses, 10 goats, a shop, and a restaurant.

She was earning 100,000 Somali shillings a day in profits from her businesses.

“We lived a good life in Jirakullow. My son’s wife cooked food in the restaurant, which we sold to customers,” said Kaltun, who fled with her children after a neighbouring village was torched by the warring sides.

These families had previously weathered and survived numerous challenges including water shortages and invasions by desert locusts that decimated their crops. They had managed to keep going until it was no longer possible to stay because of the intensifying conflict around them.

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