SOMALIA: Galkayo IDPs suffer as aid agencies pull out

NAIROBI, 14 February 2012 (IRIN) - More and more aid agencies are withdrawing from South Galkayo in central Somalia's self-declared autonomous state of Galmudug, due to increased insecurity: Five months after a militia kidnapped two aid workers, living conditions for thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) there have deteriorated, with food and shelter in short supply.
"I live in Buulo Kontrol Camp. In my camp alone, there are 1,084 families [around 6,500 people]. Many of the agencies that used to help us have left because they fear for their safety. We are short of almost everything - food, shelter and medical help," Sayid Ali, a resident, told IRIN by telephone on 14 February.
There are 9,863 IDP families (59,178 people) in and around Galkayo in 21 IDP settlements, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
"We are extremely concerned about the decreasing humanitarian access in Galkayo, which for the past few years has been a relatively safe environment for humanitarian workers delivering aid to over 60,000 IDPs and many more vulnerable people in areas south of Galkayo," said Kiki Gbeho, who heads the Somalia branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“We need all actors and Somali people to work together to enable aid workers to reach those in need, wherever they are,” she added.
The vast majority of the IDPs are from southern Somalia but the camps are also home to some drought displaced, according to Abdinasir Abdullahi Shuuke, who heads SOSDA, a local NGO working with the displaced.
"Since most of the aid agencies withdrew late last year, due to insecurity, the displaced have had very little help."
Shuuke told IRIN that insecurity in South Galakyo was "a major problem for both IDPs and aid agencies. The aid workers cannot do their work if their lives are at risk and the IDPs are caught up in the middle."
In October 2011 two aid workers from Danish Demining Group were kidnapped in South Galkayo, and on 21 January an US reporter was kidnapped there.
Little food
Sayid Ali, an IDP from southern Somalia, lives in the Buulo Kontrol camp, home to some 630 families (3,800 people). He said the security situation in the town was bad and adversely affecting their lives.
"We used to get help from the agencies and supplement that with odd jobs in the town. But now the agencies are slowly disappearing and there is no work in the town because of the security situation."
He said their biggest concern was dwindling food supplies and shelter material. "Everything here is in short supply but food and shelter are our biggest worry."
Zahro Hassan, a mother of seven, who also cares for four orphaned children, said she struggles to get one meal a day for her family.
Hassan, a resident of Alanley camp, along with 950 other displaced families (5,700 people), said only residents deemed to be malnourished get food provided by a local NGO. "I have one malnourished boy and we all eat what he is given. I know it is wrong but what can I do."
She said she used to get work in the town but can no longer find any.
A local journalist, who visited the camp recently, told IRIN that people in the camp and other camps in the area were desperate.
“The plastic sheeting they use to cover their huts is falling apart and many of the families I visited had very little or no food.”
"What agencies are here [South Galkayo] have problems moving around," he said.
Theme (s): Conflict, Governance, Refugees/IDPs, Security,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]