Somalia displaced | Action Against Hunger

Displacement and evictions

Between July 2011 and June 2012, a severe drought affected the Horn of Africa, causing food crises in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia and leading to a famine declaration.

By Leah Oatway

Jul 14 2015

In the past two decades, more than a million people have been forced to flee the fierce fighting and chronic drought that has plagued Somalia. In our special Somalia series, seven Somalis displaced in their country speak candidly of the daily challenges they face in the camps they now call home.

The crisis threatened the livelihoods of about 9.5 million people. Many refugees from southern Somalia fled to neighbouring countries, including Kenya. 

In Mogadishu, overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and high rates of severe acute malnutrition led to a significant number of deaths. Most of the displaced belonged to the agropastoral Rahanweyn clan and the Bantus.

When the famine hit Somalia, Ibrahim Ali, now 60, was already living in extreme poverty. Formerly a farmer, the drought meant he was unable to continue farming the land, forcing the whole family into exile.

"The rains were increasingly erratic and resources began to dwindle,” he recalled.

After losing their cattle and land, Ibrahim and his family initially settled in Hodan. The few goats he had saved eventually perished because of a lack of water. In a camp in Hodan, the family received medical care and food: porridge, rice and nutrional supplements. But when his second wife died, family life became more complicated. Too busy trying to provide for his family, Ibrahim had no time to take care of housework or spend time with his children, which saddened him. His other wife works in town. For half a dollar a day, she washes clothes and cleans. She often returns late at night, when the children are already in bed. 

Eventually Ibrahim and his family moved to Mogadishu. He was evicted three times before arriving at the Hamdi camp in the Deynille district in March 2015. 

"We can be evicted at any time"

“We're still not sure we will stay, we know very well that we can be evicted at any time,” he said. “It's as if we have no rights here.”

Ibrahim thanked God for having blessed him and his children, but is worried that he has no resources to support them. 

Today he is dependent on humanitarian aid, although he is proud of the clay bricks he makes and occasionally sells to make a little money.

If security improves in lower Chebili, the family will return to their homeland to rebuild their lives and resume agricultural activities. 

"If we are to resume a normal life, buy clothes for the children and send them to school, we need agriculture, “ Ibrahim said. Multiple evictions since they were displaced have increased their vulnerability. "Every expulsion sees us return to zero."

Over the past 20 years, we’ve worked in Somalia without interruption to help families through these difficult times and provide their children with healthier futures. But so far, the international community and the various Somali authorities have not fulfilled their responsibilities to families in urgent need.

The safety, dignity and basic human rights of the 1.1 million people displaced inside Somalia urgently must be protected. Find out more...

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We have worked in Somalia for more than 20 years, and were one of the few organisations helping families in the hard-hit Bakool and Benadir regions, the epicentre of the devastating 2011 food crisis. 

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