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Displaced Somalis Face Overcrowding at Refugee Camps

Badbaado refugee camp in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, August 11, 2011

Badbaado refugee camp in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, August 11, 2011

Badbaado is one of many camps springing up in and around Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, to house the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the famine-plagued countryside. VOA's Peter Heinlein and Gabe Joselow captured these images at Badbaado on August 11, 2011.

The Badbaado camp was just a barren empty field in a destroyed Mogadishu neighborhood a few weeks ago. Today it is home to 30,000 Somalis, and the lines of people waiting for their daily ration of rice or gruel get longer every day.

There are camps like this lining the roads all around the capital. Many of Badbaado's residents have walked hundreds of kilometers to get here, because this is far better than what is available in the rural areas.

Men in one line, women and children in another, they wait their turn to access one of the giant cauldrons in the kitchen, where rice donated by the people of Mogadishu is doled out into their pots, or sometimes simply into a plastic bag.

Precious water is provided through a few communal faucets jutting out of the parched ground.

It isn't much, and the health care is even more scarce, but it's the best the people can do as international aid agencies scramble to get life-saving food and medicines into the country. The challenge is daunting.

Malnutrition is hardest on the children, and mothers carry infants so tiny they are in constant danger. Measles is also a threat, with many sick children lying in the open.