(ERGO) – Abdifatah Nur Daud, a father of seven, fled with his family around midnight when their two-roomed house in Baladi Nur, 10 kilometres west of Beletweyne, was burnt down on 9 May during an ongoing clan conflict over farmland.
“We were just farmers who sustained ourselves by the sale of our crops. But now the conflict has left us poor!” he said.
His family depended on the produce of their three-hectare farm, where he had planted tomatoes and maize. But what began as a dispute between two farmers over land ownership flared into a full-scale conflict that forced them to flee to Shiirkaneeco village, four kilometres from their farm, just before harvesting.
In Shiirkaneeco, they have been eating the little food that Abdifatah took on credit from a local shop. As he has no money to pay, he fears when the food runs out in 10 days he will not be given more credit.
Abdifatah contemplated going back to harvest so he would have something to sell, but the conflict has closed off the road. He also fears that the rising river Shabelle might break its banks and flood the farm.
Fahmo Salad Ibrahim, a mother of nine, also fled from Baladi Nur, leaving her small shop and everything behind. For the past two weeks they have been staying with a farming family in Leebow village. The family accepted to host them, being strangers, after Fahmo pleaded with them.
“We don’t have anything to cook. My children have been getting food from the host family and the neighbours whenever they cook,” she said.
Fahmo and her husband have been sleeping on a mat in the corridor. The children have been sleeping in one of the hosts’ two rooms at night. They shelter together under a tree in the daytime.
Fahmo said they paid $15 for a pick-up truck to transport them when they fled their village.
“My husband repaired broken radios to contribute to the family bills, but now we are all staying with the children without any idea of what tomorrow holds for us,” she told Radio Ergo.
Hiran regional authorities confirmed that the fighting, which has spread to Buulo-Karin, Lug-bari and Dharkeeynley villages, has resulted in the burning of around 100 homes and the displacement of 320 families. The authorities said they have deployed soldiers to the conflict site.
The commissioner of Baladi Nur, Ali Abdi Nur, said the regional authority was spearheading reconciliation efforts to bring together the elders of the two warring clans, seeking to end the conflict that has claimed the lives of 10 people.
He said the conflict had spread forcing some of the families already displaced by the violence to flee again. “It is the rainy season, when the farmers plant their farms, but the conflict has forced many of them out of the village,” he said.
A delegation of ministers and members of the Somali federal government arrived in Beletweyne town on 17 May to participate in the peace process.