MORE than 2.6 million people are currently internally displaced in Somalia, owing to floods, conflict, and a cyclone.
The director of advocacy and external engagement for World Vision in Somalia, Geeta Bandi-Phillips, who was in the country last week, said that the situation was “disheartening”.
On Monday, she said: “Somalia has quite intense and deep problems. It has been a fragile state for 30 years now. Stability is slowly coming though. There is obviously the conflict with non-state actors, but also it is a very dry country: there has also been a drought in the country for the past five harvesting seasons.
“This has made a very big impact. Last year, there was almost a famine, but this year has been huge rains. This has helped a little bit, but its hard to cope as the water just comes and goes.”
In May, heavy rains caused deadly floods across East Africa (News, 25 May). A tropical cyclone, Sagar, was the trigger for the torrential rains.
Ms Bandi-Phillips said: “The cyclone had a horrid impact. Villages have been destroyed, families have fled and abandoned their homes. They have never seen anything like this.”
Because of flooding, water supplies have been disrupted and wells have been buried under sand. This has caused fears of a cholera outbreak and other diseases due to contaminated water.
“Acute watery diahorrea [AWD] is a big problem. People don’t have good access to water, and the cyclones have damaged wells and destroyed solar power,” Ms Bandi-Phillips said.
She visited the Somaliland region of the country last week. “It was really disheartening. Cyclone Sagar impacted 890,000 people, with 200,000 displaced. Some of the villages did not even know what to expect, and the government wasn’t prepared. Houses were literally blow away.”
It is not just a short-term issue, Ms Bandi Phillips said: “2.6 million people in Somalia are currently displaced. When you move literally holding your children, you want a home — 5.4 million out of 12 million people in Somalia need help.
“They need homes, temporary or permanent; they want their children to be safe and fed. You need to provide education and recreation for them as well. It is what every parent wishes, but these things are at a premium in Somalia at the moment.
“We [World Vision] are a child-focused organisation, trying to protect and nurture young people, and give them a good, stable environment. We aim to give them food security, [and] washing, education, and health facilities.
“Every little contribution helps. It really does go where it needs to go. Somalia is a place that is constantly in need. World Vision has provided water-purification packets, clothes, and health support to those affected by flooding and the cyclones.”
A further issue in Somalia is the ongoing conflict: Somali, Kenyan, and American troops are fighting the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab. Earlier this month, a US soldier was killed in an extremist attack.
Ms Bandi-Phillips said: “The conflict means that some of the rural areas are inaccessible; but, with the help of local organisations, we still try to get lifesaving help to people all over Somalia.”
To donate to the World Vision East Africa crisis appeal, visit www.worldvision.org.uk/ways-give/make-donation/east-africa-appeal.