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SOMALIA: Locals mobilised to assist displaced civilians

NAIROBI, 5 April 2007 (IRIN) - Civil society organisations in Somalia have launched a campaign to help thousands of desperate civilians displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu, the capital.

"We have been trucking water in the last three days," said Abdinasir Ahmed Usman, head of a civil society taskforce that is assisting the displaced.

Shortage of water is one of the biggest problems. Abdinasir said six tankers had been delivering water four times a day for displaced people camped between Mogadishu and Afgoye, south of the capital.

Other local groups, including the business community, had begun delivering water to people camping at Ceel Ade and Ceel Ma'an in the north of the city.

The taskforce estimates that more than 100,000 people have been displaced around the city. "From Bal'ad [north] to Merka [100km south], Ceel Ma'an [east] and Dayniile [west] people are living under trees or sheltering under whatever structure they can find," he said.

Against the backdrop of grim pictures of women and children living under trees or begging for food on the roadside, hundreds of ordinary Somalis and business people have volunteered their support, said Madina Muhammad Ilmi, deputy head of the taskforce.

"Everybody is giving what they can," she said. "This is our way of showing the world that we care for each other, despite all the problems," she added, saying some owners of water tankers had provided them for free and were even driving them.

Mahamud Abdikarim, chairman of the Business Council, said his group was also participating in the aid effort. "We asked our members to contribute what they can in kind or in cash," he said. Ahmed Yusuf, chairman of Hormuud Telecommunication Company, said: "We are part of the community and we must participate. These are our people suffering and we cannot wait for international agencies before we do something."

Usman said the various groups had covered "almost all the water needs but we cannot cover the food and shelter needs".

Ilmi said conditions in the camps were deteriorating by the day. "The approaching GU rains [long rains] will make matters worse," she added. "We already have children dying of diarrhoea every day, and if the rains arrive and they are still living in these conditions many more will die."

She said some agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, Danish Refugee Council and Daryeel Bulsho Guud (a local NGO backed by German agencies) had also been supporting the displaced.

Fighting escalated in Mogadishu in December when Somali troops, backed by Ethiopia, fought to remove the Union of Islamic Courts from the city. Since then, violence has escalated, despite the presence of an African Union peacekeeping force. Nearly 400 people were killed in recent clashes.




Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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