Over the past seventeen
years, Somalia has been subject to ongoing civil wars, droughts and
floods. Most observers agree that the crisis has never been as acute as
it is today. The immense gap between the level of need and the
corresponding humanitarian response is striking. Agencies struggle to
provide food, water, health care, and other basic assistance to one
million internally displaced people because of the worsening security
crisis. In February and March 2008, advocate Patrick Duplat and
peacebuilding advocate Erin Weir assessed the conditions faced by
displaced Somalis in parts of Lower Shabelle, Mogadishu and along the
Mogadishu-Afgooye road. During the mission, they interviewed
representatives from UN agencies, local and international NGOs,
government and local authorities, as well as Somalis who have been
affected by the conflict.
Street Scene in Mogadishu: The people of Somalia have gone without a stable government for over 17 years. Infrastructure in Mogadishu – already crumbling after nearly two decades of fighting – continues to deteriorate. Urban IDP camp in Mogadishu: Indiscriminate shelling, intimidation, and “search and sweep” operations by insurgent groups, security forces, and Ethiopian troops have displaced over 60% of Mogadishu’s population. The poorest of the poor have been forced into urban displacement camps. IDP Camp Along the Mogadishu-Afgooye Axis: Hundreds of thousands have fled, some making the dangerous journey to Yemen or crossing into Kenya. An estimated 250,000 internally displaced people are settled in makeshift shelters along the road between Mogadishu and the nearby town Afgooye. UN Plane in South Central Somalia: Aid groups are struggling to provide shelter, water, food, and medical assistance to hundreds of thousands in need. UN staff have some access, but the scale of the crisis, compounded by tremendous insecurity, has meant that the response falls well short. Water Truck in Mogadishu: The volatility of the security situation, as well as the targeted killing and kidnapping of international UN and NGO staff, has meant that the bulk of aid delivery has fallen to Somali staff working for international organizations and local organizations. Private Security in an IDP Camp Near Mogadishu: Insecurity has also meant that international staff have had to hire private security in order to operate inside Somalia. Inside an AU Armored Personnel Carrier: The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is deployed in Mogadishu, but with just over 2,200 of the planned 8,000 AMISOM troops deployed, it has been limited to protecting key infrastructure such as the airport, seaport and presidential palace. Group of IDP Boys: While the international community continues to debate how best to intervene in Somalia, the human suffering continues to mount, and a generation of Somalis is growing up in a state of insecurity.