(ERGO) – Mohamed Omar Jama, a father of eight, has been forced to beg on the streets after fleeing his farm in southern Somalia’s Gedo region.
“We cook the little I get from well-wishers once a day. During the day, we tie clothes on a tree to shelter from the scorching heat of the sun while at night we sleep in the open field,” he said.
Mohamed is among 285 families stranded without food and shelter in Aboore village in Dollow, after clan conflict broke out in Baar-masare and Habal-jirow villages on 5 July.
He and his family depended on their six-hectare farm and 40 goats, all of which were left behind in Habal-jirow. He had planted tomatoes, watermelon, salad, onions and green peppers on the farm.
For two months, they were hosted by a local family but on 20 August they were asked to move out as the hosts too are struggling financially.
“We became a burden on our host family. They have been hosting us for 46 days, despite being poor themselves. We appeal for urgent assistance,” he said.
Hussein Mohamed, another displaced father of seven whose family fled from the conflict in Habal-jirow, said he has been searching for a job to rent a house for his family. Their host family informed him on 25 August that they could no longer support him as they were struggling to make ends meet.
“We are living in a difficult situation, sleeping under a tree. We have neither beddings nor food. The family is now surviving on the little food that I beg from the local residents. Sometimes, I come back home empty handed. Only God knows our situation,” he said.
Hussein, a farm labourer, thought of taking his family back home but it the small paddle boat they used to cross the river Juba to Aboore when they fled is no longer operating. An armed militia group took control of the river, halting civilian crossings to and from the village.
His only hope of returning home is to go through Ethiopia, but he has no money for such a journey nor any legal papers to travel through Ethiopia.
“I don’t think our situation will change for the better if we remain in this village. I am planning to move to IDP camps in Ethiopia with my children, instead of seeing them dying here of hunger. If that won’t be possible, I will have no option but to wait here until peace returns to our village. I heard the elders are trying to broker a peace deal between the two warring clans,” Hussein said.
Aboore commissioner, Isack Liban Mohamed, told Radio Ergo that the local families who rely on livestock had been unable to continue their support to the displaced families after two months, as they are still recovering from the devastating drought they faced at the end of last year and early this year.
The commissioner said the IDP families have not received any other assistance.
“We persuaded the locals to host the IDP families and share their food and shelter with them. Each local family hosted one or two families, but they couldn’t keep up with their needs. For us that was the only support we could give them at the moment. There is nothing else we could help them with,” he said.