NAIROBI, 27 August 2009 (IRIN) – Two months after food deliveries to Somalia’s south-central town of Jowhar were halted, several thousand internally displaced persons (IDPs) are facing a food crisis, sources said.
“The little food we were given in June is gone; we have had nothing in the last two months,” Asiyo Jilibey, a community leader, told IRIN on 27 August. “I don’t know what will happen next but if help does not arrive soon we are in trouble.”
An estimated 9,000 IDP families (49,000 people), live mostly in seven camps in the town, 90km north of the capital, Mogadishu. The camps are Dayah, Kalagoye, Bada Cas, Baryare, Bulo Matuuni, Biyafo and Sheikh Omar Camp.
Jilibey said most of the IDPs had been in the camps since early 2007, when an upsurge in violence in Mogadishu sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing, “but we had a new influx in May, June and early July “.
Food distributions were stopped in Jowhar after June due to insecurity, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
“We last distributed 124.46MT of assorted food assistance to 8,190 Jowhar IDPs in June,” Mahamud Hassan “Guled”, a spokesman for WFP Somalia, said. “But due to the insecurity, our local partner could not distribute the planned July food rations to the IDPs and the situation remains the same this month.”
The Islamist al-Shabab has been in control of Jowhar since May 2009. The group raided and looted UN offices there. Jowhar was the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) main hub for the southern and central regions of Somalia.
“Some days nothing”
Mumino Ibrahim, a mother of seven, said she had no food left and was on her way to town find some work.
“Maybe I will get enough so we can have a meal tonight,” she said, adding that she had left her children in the care of the oldest, a 10-year-old girl. “Some days I get enough for a meal and some days nothing.”
Ibrahim, a resident of Dayah Camp, along with 451 other displaced families [2,706 people], said if she did not leave the children to look for work, “they will starve. There is no one else.”
Fartun Salah, a mother of four, said she arrived in Dayah Camp two months ago, fleeing violence in Mogadishu. “I went back [to the city] when the Ethiopians left but had to flee again.”
She said the violence was worse now than in 2007. “I thought that after the Ethiopians we would have peace but this is worse than before.
“I do odd jobs when I get them, like everybody else, but sometimes it is not even enough for one meal. My children are hungry and only God can save us now,” Salah said.
Jilibey said it was common to see families putting a pot on the stove “with nothing but water so the children will think food is coming and sleep”.
The situation is made worse because the odd jobs that many IDPs depend on have disappeared. “There is hardly any business activity in the area, so nobody is hiring,” she said.