News / Africa

Increasing Number of Somalis Fleeing Insecurity, Hunger

Masked Somali national army (SNA) soldiers search through homes for al-Shabaab fighters, during an operation in Ealsha Biyaha, Somalia, Saturday, June, 2, 2012.
Masked Somali national army (SNA) soldiers search through homes for al-Shabaab fighters, during an operation in Ealsha Biyaha, Somalia, Saturday, June, 2, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA - The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says insecurity and lack of food continue to drive a large number of Somalis to flee their homes.

The UNHCR reports that around 146,000 Somalis have left their homes this year, as the country struggles with another poor rainy season and continued fighting between pro-government forces and militant group al-Shabab.

The agency says many of the displaced have settled in areas around Dobley and Diif, close to the Kenyan border.  It says many are now integrated with host communities, while others have settled on the outskirts of the towns.  It says displacements follow a similar pattern around the Dollow, Gedo region bordering Ethiopia.

The UNHCR says the number of Somali refugees also is increasing.  As of this week, it says, more than 157,000 Somali refugees are sheltering in five camps and a transit center at Dollo Ado in Ethiopia.  Since the beginning of this month, Somali refugees have continued to arrive at an average rate of 1,200 every week.  

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards says the displacement and refugee crisis caused by last summer's regional drought has not diminished.  

"The displacement remains a major problem.  We have in the region more than 900,000 displaced people inside Somalia itself - estimates are 1.3 million or slightly above that, I believe," said Edwards. "So the factors of concern are still very much there."

These factors include poor seasonal rains, resulting in food insecurity.  The UNHCR says people are moving to different towns in search of water and pasture.  It says many people are leaving their homes because they are unable to provide for themselves.

Al-Shabab has become a weakened force on the battlefield and has largely left the Somali capital, Mogadishu.  Nevertheless, Edwards says al-Shabab remains a potent threat to people living under its control in southern Somalia.   

"People do continue to cite the fear of forced recruitment by al-Shabab and al-Shabab, as you probably know, has to a large degree moved from Mogadishu itself," said Edwards. "And, that, in itself, has caused different displacement patterns, with more people coming to Mogadishu now than we have seen previously.  Access to many of these areas by humanitarian agencies remains difficult."   

Edwards says many new refugees arrive in Ethiopia with all of their belongings, including donkey carts and whatever livestock they still possess.   Many say other family members and neighbors in Somalia intend to follow.

The UNHCR spokesman says existing refugee camps are running out of space.  So, his agency and Ethiopian authorities have agreed to extend the capacity of the Buramino camp to above 25,000, while a site for a sixth camp is being selected.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More