Massive displacements in Somalia

by Danish Refugee Council | Danish Refugee Council (DRC) - Denmark
Thursday, 17 April 2014 06:51 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Almost 50,000 Somalis have fled their home during the last month and sought refuge elsewhere in the country. A very volatile security situation and fear of fighting and violence have forced people on the run. The Danish Refugee Council is working hard to address their needs.

Fear of being in the middle of the fighting and violence around Somalia has forced 50,000 Somalis to flee their houses and thus becoming internally displaced. AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) has launched operations against Al Shabaab in several districts in Somalia and people fear the consequences of these operations. The largest influxes have happened in the towns of Mogadishu, Luuq and Baidoa - all places where the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is present and doing everything possible to support the newly displaced but the needs are immense.

“The situation in Somalia is very insecure and people are often forced to flee. The latest displacements are putting extra pressure on our operations but our staff is running as fast as they can to keep up with the newest influx. We are present all over Somalia and have a contingency plan which allow rapid responses and flexibility in situations like this,” says Rikke Johannesen, Deputy Regional Director, DRC Horn of Africa & Yemen.

Compared with the rest of Somalia, Mogadishu offers above average access to education, training and health services. Following the recent improvement in the security situation, the local economy is starting to recover. But there is a big difference between people voluntarily deciding to return to the capital and people who are pressured to leave their homes and forced to find refuge in Mogadishu – as is the case for the latest arrivals.

“Even though part of Mogadishu is relatively safe, 2013 and 2014 have seen an increase of security incidents. Additionally the new influx is happening while the city authorities and the international community is still working very hard to assist the 360.000 IDPs already living in very dire camps, as well during a time where neighboring countries are sending back people unassisted,” Rikke Johannesen says.

But people are not only fleeing to Mogadishu. In Luuq, DRC staff have conducted an assessment when the new arrivals appeared. The majority of this newly displaced population is made up of children, women and old aged persons. The socio-economic conditions of the women and children in the camps are extremely precarious, particularly as far as food security is concerned.

“In Luuq, temporary accommodation has been provided to the displaced persons in the major IDP camps within the district. These camps were set up before the latest arrivals by international humanitarian agencies with the help of locally based organizations. However, the number of new arrivals is overwhelming and requires immediate intervention,” says Rikke Johannesen.

A significant number of the displaced people are interested to return back to their areas of origin if security conditions allow. The new arrivals are mostly accommodated in the earlier IDP camps while some of them have sought refuge in host families.

The Somalia programme is the largest of DRC’s four country programmes currently carried out in the Horn of Africa & Yemen. Activities span from emergency response to longer term recovery and development aimed at strengthening resilience in the region. DRC has 19 operational field offices in Somalia where programmes are developed, designed and implemented by teams of international and national staff. This presence allows for rapid responses and flexibility in providing contextualized assistance to populations affected by humanitarian crisis in the region.