(ERGO) – Seventy-year-old Luley* and her family of six were forced to flee from Madawaraabe village in Hudur district, in southern Somalia’s Bakool region, in early June by an upsurge in insecurity that has left thousands of families in crisis.
They reached Hudur town on 12 June and since then the family has been struggling to get even a single meal a day.
Luley, who has lived all her life in Madawaraabe village, said she was feeling totally disoriented. They had failed to harvest anything from the small farm they depended on for a living first due to drought and then because of the conflict.
People started fleeing villages around Hudur at the end of May following orders by the armed group Al-Shabab for them to move to the town.
“We are surviving on water only. The young children are feeding on nutritional biscuits given by humanitarian organisations,” Luley said.
“We don’t have a shelter. We are sleeping in this dusty open field. We are weak from hunger, and we aren’t even able to collect sticks to build a hut for ourselves.”
Luley is among 5,000 pastoralist and farming families who have fled from up to 50 villages in Bakool to Hudur town in the past two weeks. They are now living in an open field allocated by the district administration, without shelter or food.
Luley said she had not received any aid from either the local authorities or aid agencies.
Ali* and his family of nine fled with their 15 goats to Hudur a week ago. He said he has already slaughtered three of the goats to feed his family and fears he might deplete the rest of the herd before any aid arrives.
“We don’t have water, food, or toilets to use. We fled to a town that is under siege,” he said.
Ali noted his family has been sleeping outside without shelter in the scorching sun of the day and the cold at night.
Hudur district social affairs commissioner, Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamed, expressed concern over the living standards of the displaced families. He said the district administration could only help them with public land to settle on and hoped humanitarian organisations would deliver urgent aid to these displaced families.
“These people have nothing at all. Hudur is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster,” he said.
Mohamed said in the past 24 hours alone up to 100 families had reached the town and more were on the way.
Abdi*, a shopkeeper in Wargalool village, fled with his children leaving all the stocks behind in his shop. He said he had suddenly become a poor, displaced family man in Hudur town.
“I have been here for 17 days now and let alone thinking of shelter, getting food is a problem. Everything is expensive here. We are living a life filled with hardships,” he said.
Hudur and the villages around it have long been under siege by the armed group Al-Shabab, which is fighting with Somali government forces for control of Hudur. Al-Sbabab forces are said to have stepped up their activity along the roads around Hudur, hindering delivery of food to the town pushing up prices.
The UN reported that the local authority appealed for humanitarian assistance for the new IDPs on 5 June and that aid responses had started following rapid needs assessments conducted in early June by NGO partners.
(* Radio Ergo has concealed the real names of all interviewees in this report for their protection).