Somalia, the fighting in Mogadishu between the transitional government
and rebels has left nearly 100 thousand people homeless. About a third have
stayed in the city. Among those trying
to survive are displaced children living in camps or on the streets, many doing
menial jobs to earn money. Many of the children are poor and hungry.
Hospital, the biggest mother and child hospital in Mogadishu, cares for
children with digestion-related problems, including malnourishment and
the hospital compound, parents lie under the trees with their sick children,
who are waiting to be seen.
head of the hospital, Mohammed Isse Abdi, says more and more children are
arriving every day. He says he's thankful that – with the help of UNICEF -- the
hospital now has a feeding center.
Noor Ali is one of a number of mothers waiting with her child at the hospital's
feeding center. With her is her seven-year-old daughter, Idman Omar Jama. She
says when she brought her daughter here in mid-May, she only weighed 12
kilograms. Now, she's recovered and is waiting for the hospital to let her go
parents in Mogadishu cannot afford to pay for their families' needs, so many
children seek menial jobs.
Bashir Ali Omar polishes shoes every day until noon, when a popular stimulant,
the narcotic leaf known as khat, arrives in the markets. He then sells the discarded leaves left on
the ground. He says he only earned 60,000 Somali shillings -- about $2.00 per
day -- which he's happy to take home to his mother and two younger brothers.
lost his father two years ago in fighting in Mogadishu between Islamic
insurgents and occupying Ethiopian troops. He says his father used to work and
provide for the family, but now that's his job. He says his mother does not
have a job, she's just a housewife. Bashir would like to go to school and learn
but now he has no time or money.
some children there is hope. A local NGO called DBG, the Somali abbreviation
for Social Welfare Network [Daryeel Bulsho Guud], has opened nearly two dozen
schools on the outskirts of the city for internally displaced persons. DBG is funded by the NGOs Bread for the World
and Dakonie Emergency Aid.
speaker of the DBG, Mohadin Ali Jimale, says the agency is
working to build up to 20 more schools. DBG provides them with latrines, and also food and water for the
hundreds of internally displaced children attending the schools. Many of the school teachers are internally
displaced themselves. They teach basic education.
says, "We are also planning to open other schools so that the underprivileged
children will get opportunity to learn and education is free of charge. This
allows the children who were displaced to maintain their education."
While some may be able to attend the schools, others
are not so lucky. Many of the city's
children have been killed in the fighting, and those who survive must work if
they want to eat.