News / Africa

Somalia Famine Refugees Joined by Others Fleeing Insecurity

TEXT SIZE - +

Kenya's military offensive against Islamic extremists in southern Somalia is sparking concern about a fresh exodus of Somali refugees to camps in Ethiopia.


The rainy season has arrived in most of the Horn of Africa, raising hopes for an end to the drought that destroyed the last few harvests, triggering famine in Somalia.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have already fled the famine zone to camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The reception center at the Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, camp receives hundreds of refugees a day.

Anne Laako of the United Nations refugee agency helps to register the new arrivals.

She says there is a new category of refugee joining the families with malnourished children.  They are mostly men, escaping al-Shabab, the militant group that has imposed its extreme vision of Islam on southern Somalia.  

"It's not only the drought and famine but it's restrictions of movement by al-Shabab, and those combined.  It's more difficult to move to where they used to move in order to get food and in order to get water and these things," Laako said.

Samuel Emmanuel of Ethiopia's refugee agency ARRA is coordinator of Hilaweyn camp, one of four facilities housing 130,000 refugees in the Dollo Ado complex.

He says construction has begun on another camp as fresh fighting forces more Somalis to flee what is becoming both a famine zone and a war zone.

"At this time the situation in Somalia is going from bad to worst. Al-Shabab is creating a drought disaster, and we are about to open a 5th camp due to the influx which is coming from Somalia," Emmanuel stated.

Ibrahim Ismael Haji fled southern Somalia a month ago with his wife and nine children.

They chose life as refugees not because of the famine, but to escape al-Shabab's harsh brand of Islamic Sharia law.

"People have a lot to be scared of from al-Shabab, things like beatings and beheadings. My family will have to accept life as refugees until Somalia is safe again," Haji said.

Mohamed Aden Osman arrived in Dollo Ado just this week. The 22-year old tells of a hazardous nine-day journey to the border, during which he was captured by al-Shabab and held for 48 hours. "Boys my age are just what al-Shabab is looking for. I was only freed after lying my captors," he said. "Promising I would go back home."

UNHCR's Anne Laakko says after a long day of interviewing new arrivals, she tries to imagine how bad conditions must be in Somalia if people are choosing to give up their homes for the boredom and harsh conditions of a refugee camp.

"It's difficult to stop thinking about it. I'm constantly thinking about it, and how the people are after they registered here, and if it's any better for them here than it is back home. And it is a very desperate situation," she said. "Here they [have] access [to] basic services but it's still a very difficult life."

Whether they are fleeing famine or fighting, the half million Somalis now in camps in Kenya and Ethiopia know that barring any unforeseen breakthrough, life as a refugee is their lot for the foreseeable future.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid