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Humanitarian Watch

EU-funded project seeks to help displaced Somalis

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MOGADISHU, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) — Somalia’s Benadir Regional Administration (BRA) has officially started implementation of a 16 million U.S. dollars project funded by the European Union to assist displaced people to integrate into communities in Mogadishu, officials said on Friday.

The EU-funded project, directly aligned with the National Development Plan of Somalia, will benefit displaced people and host communities alike, through the provision of employment opportunities.

“With this project, the EU shows the importance that it attaches to affording opportunities to people who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict or drought,” Head of Cooperation of EU Delegation to Somalia Pilar Palmero said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

The project which will be carried out in partnership with UN agencies and NGOs, will provide greater access to basic services such as affordable housing, protection, GBV prevention, legal assistance and improved livelihood opportunities.

In total, it is expected that more than 84,000 people will benefit from this project. “We fully support its belief of the economic and social benefits that displaced people can bring to the communities hosting them,” Palmero said.

According to the UN, displacement from rural to urban areas due to drought and conflict has placed considerable strain on Somalia, with Mogadishu hosting the largest concentrations of IDPs in the country.

More than 400,000 IDPs were based in Mogadishu prior to the drought, and the urban area has received nearly 200,000 newly displaced by drought and conflict over the past year.

The displaced are struggling to get access to water, food, basic services, protection, secure housing and livelihood opportunities.

“This (project) is particularly important for marginalized groups as it can strengthen governance linkages that connect IDP settlements to the districts, and districts to the municipality, ensuring good practices for planning and delivery in these settlements,” said George Conway, Country Director of UNDP Somalia.

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Humanitarian Watch

UN: More than half of Somalis need emergency aid

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The United Nations says more than half of Somalia’s population is in need of emergency aid due to a major drought and worsening conflict.

Millions have been forced from their homes and hundreds of thousands of children have been left malnourished.

The UN says the situation will worsen unless it receives $1.6bn in extra funds.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports.

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Briefing Room

Somalia to Probe Evictions of Thousands of Displaced Families

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NAIROBI — The Somali government responded to widespread criticism by aid agencies on Wednesday, promising to investigate reports that thousands of families fleeing drought and conflict were forcefully evicted from more than 20 informal camps.

The United Nations and groups such as the Somalia NGO Consortium say more than 4,000 families, or about 20,000 people, had their homes bulldozed last month inside settlements on the outskirts of the capital of Mogadishu.

The demolitions on private land were unannounced, they said, and pleas by the community — largely women and children — for time to collect their belongings and go safely were not granted.

Some aid workers who witnessed the evictions said uniformed government soldiers were involved in the demolitions.

“Regarding the forced evictions, we are really deeply concerned. We are investigating the number of evictions,” Gamal Hassan, Somalia’s minister for planning, investment and economic development, told participants at a U.N. event.

“We have to make sure we investigate and have to make sure we know exactly what happened. And then we will issue a report and you can take a look at it and see what happened and how it happened,” he said by video conference from Mogadishu.

The impoverished east African nation of more than 12 million people has been witnessing an unprecedented drought, with poor rains for four consecutive seasons.

It has also been mired in conflict since 1991 and its Western-backed government is struggling to assert control over poor, rural areas under the Islamist militant group al Shabab.

The U.N. says drought and violence have forced more than 2 million people to seek refuge elsewhere in the country, often in informal settlements located around small towns and cities.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Wednesday condemned the demolitions, and said the fate of those evicted did not fit with the progress Somalia has made.

“Not only did these people lose their homes, but the basic infrastructure that was provided by humanitarian partners and donors, such as latrines, schools, community centers — has been destroyed,” said Peter De Clercq, head of OCHA in Somalia, at the same event.

“I reiterate my condemnation of this very serious protection violation and call on the national and regional authorities to take necessary steps to protect and assist these people who have suffered so much.”

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Humanitarian Watch

‘People were screaming’: troops destroy $200,000 aid camps in Somalia

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More than 4,000 people are homeless two weeks after security forces demolished camps sheltering internally displaced Somalis

Two weeks after being forcibly evicted from their shelters, thousands of vulnerable families are still living rough in the outskirts of Mogadishu.

Somali security forces went in and destroyed 23 camps for internally displaced people, housing more than 4,000 Somalis, on 29 and 30 December last year according to the UN.

People say they woke up to bulldozers and soldiers demolishing their shelters. “We were not even given time to collect our belongings,” said Farhia Hussein, a mother of nine. “People were screaming and running in all directions. Two of my children went missing in the chaos. They are twin sisters, aged six – thank God I found them two days later.”

Hussein, 46, came to the city nine months ago from the Shebelle region. “I was a farmer but I lost everything to the drought and I cannot go back now because the security situation is terrible there,” she said. “I never thought my own people would treat me this way in Mogadishu, I felt like a foreigner in my own country.”

The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (Unocha) said the destruction included health and sanitary facilities, schools, latrines and water points, at a cost of more than $200,000 of donor money.

Witnesses say the police and military personnel involved in the clearances beat up anyone who tried to resist or question them.

Omar Mohamed, 54, and his eight children now share a makeshift shelter with other families in a nearby camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). “It was a nightmare. At least my children are alive. I saw a mother who lost her eight-month-old child because of hunger and heat. They were literally sleeping under the sun in the open air,” he said.

Mohamed Ismail Abdullahi, district commissioner of Kahda, where the demolitions took place, said: “The eviction was done for the safety of the IDPs since the area they settled was a disputed private land and the eviction order was issued by a High Court, although there was not a proper notice and it was not well coordinated.”

Aid workers and journalists were not allowed to film.

“Security forces stopped reporters from taking photos. It was done quite swiftly and there is not much [reporting] of the eviction in the local press,” said aid worker Abdiaziz Hussein.

Land and property disputes by powerful local clans have been increasing in the city, thanks to booming real estate developments. Displaced people, who mostly come from smaller clans, are often caught up in the middle of the dispute.

Famine, conflict and drought displaced one million people throughout Somalia last year alone. Most end up in large towns and cities like Mogadishu where they face being constantly moved on.

In 2015, similar large-scale destruction of such settlements took place in the same Kahda district, with more than 21,000 people forcibly removed from their makeshift shacks.

The district commissioner said only about 600 families had been rehoused so far and they were working hard to shelter the remaining families.

“We managed to secure land, at least for the coming four years, and will hopefully renew the lease or find an alternative solution but our priority now is to help build shelters for those who lost their properties in the eviction and we call upon all parties including the federal government, the UN and other aid agencies to support these people,” he said.

Farhia Hussein has been taken in by another displaced family whose camp was not affected. “Imagine sharing a small tent with another family of ten. We are basically sleeping in the open air. There are many charities here but there is not enough support.”

Abdiaziz Hussein, who works with a local organisation in the camps, said thousands were in difficulty. “They cannot go back to the camps because the police are still there, guarding the emptied settlements to stop people from coming back,” he said.

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