War and drought push Hiran families into IDP camps

Iqro Abdi Farah has been unable to cook a decent meal for her 12 children since June, when they arrived in Raage-Iidle camp on the outskirts of Beledweyne, after fleeing their rural home due to an unforgiving combination of drought and insecurity.

She and her 12 children must depend on whatever their relatives and other IDPs can offer them, which is usually far from enough.

“We cook whatever we get from the Muslim people. We don’t have any other food. My husband is mentally ill, who will work for us? Apart from what people give us we don’t have anything else. That is how we live,” she said.

Iqro’s family were agro-pastoralists in rural Halgan, where they lost their maize crops and 90 goats to the last two years of harsh drought.

Tragically, Iqra’s step daughter Nasro Dahir, who used to support them from the proceeds of her restaurant in Jalalaqsi, was killed with her children in an explosion in February. The whole family were devastated at the loss of their loved ones and the family’s main breadwinner.

Without any crops or animals left in Halgan, and with growing insecurity in the area due to war between the government and Al-Shabab, they decided to migrate to join the camp.

They moved to a flimsy hut at the entrance of Raage-Iidle camp, where they have not received any aid from aid organisations.

Iqro blames the family tragedy and the economic downturn in their circumstances for her husband’s current mental state.

Also struggling in Raage-Iidle camp is Kamila Ahmed Ibrahim with her six children, displaced by conflict and drought from Luuqa-Jeelow village.

“Today, we thank God, but there is no money to buy anything. We can’t buy salt. That’s our situation. I can’t buy rice, I can’t buy spaghetti, I can’t buy meat! I am elderly aged 60 and I am trying to work today,” she said.

There are about 800 families in Raage-Iidle camp, most of them displaced by the violent ongoing fighting between the Somali federal government forces and Al-Shabab militia in Buloburde, Moqokori and Mahas.

Kamila said they struggle to get water as there are no wells in the camp. They walk about three kilometres to buy 20 litres of water at 4,000 Somali shilling (just under half a dollar).

“We are facing water shortage. We have to walk to Ifiya and carry the water on our backs, there is no one to carry the water so we carry it ourselves from the well,” she said.

Kamila and her family lost 50 goats to the drought in 2021. She arrived in the camp with two thin goats and sold them off for just $48, far less than the normal price of a decent goat.

She is happy her children have access to free education although she cannot buy books and pens for them. Forced to accept life in the miserable camp for now, she thinks a lot about their life before.

The deputy representative for social affairs at Hiran regional authority, Ali Osman Ali, said in the past 10 months more than 5,000 people have joined IDP camps in Beledweyne. The rise in people leaving their homes to join camps is the result of the insecurity arising from the government forces offensive to flush Al-Shabab out of the region.

“We are aware of the people who are getting displaced because of the conflicts. We know a lot about them, but besides giving them land and monitoring their situation there is nothing much they have got,” he said.

He said drought has also been a contributing factor in people’s impoverishment and displacement. The authority has settled the families in 10 new camps on the outskirts of Beledweyne. He requested the Somali government and aid organisations to reach the displaced families with aid.

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