THOUSANDS of refugees who are fleeing drought and famine in Somalia have been forcibly evicted by armed security forces from their temporary shelters on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Mogadishu.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that eyewitness reports of the bulldozing of shelters and other accommodation, including schools, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, were of “deep concern”.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter de Clercq, said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of evictions, without prior notice, of internally displaced persons, in Banadir region. Some of these displaced people have walked long distances from different parts of the country, fleeing drought and conflict. On 29 and 30 December, over 23 internally displaced persons’ [IDPs] settlements, housing over 4000 households, were destroyed.
“Personal property and livelihoods have also been lost as people were not given time to collect their belongings before the destruction started. Families, including children, women and the elderly are now living in the open.”
Much of the temporary infrastructure, which included sanitation, water points, schools, and latrines, had been paid for through foreign aid. Few of those who were evicted have found other shelter, and most of them are now reported to be living rough.
The UN and international NGOs have called on the Somali government to protect the rights of those who have been forced to flee their homes.
World Vision has denounced the violent actions of security forces. Its director of operations in Somalia, Simon Nyabwengi, said: “We are concerned that families were not provided with adequate notification and compensation; though viable relocation or local integration options are required by international law. We would like to urge the government of Somalia to respond to the ongoing situation, protect the communities impacted, and work with landowners and other actors to develop a plan that will promote and protect housing, land, and property rights of IDPs.”
Famine, conflict, and drought displaced one million people throughout Somalia last year alone, bringing the total number of IDPs in the country to two million. The UN reports that more than six million people in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance, and levels of malnutrition.
In 2015, similar large-scale destruction of such settlements took place in the same Kahda district, when more than 21,000 people were forcibly removed from their makeshift shacks.