News / Africa

UNHCR Tries to Count Somalia's Displaced

Workers unload emergency aid from a UNHCR-chartered aircraft in Mogadishu, August 8, 2011. Workers unload emergency aid from a UNHCR-chartered aircraft in Mogadishu, August 8, 2011.
x
Workers unload emergency aid from a UNHCR-chartered aircraft in Mogadishu, August 8, 2011.
Workers unload emergency aid from a UNHCR-chartered aircraft in Mogadishu, August 8, 2011.
NAIROBI - As the United Nations prepares to mark World Refugee Day Wednesday, the U.N. refugee agency is struggling to put exact figures to the number of internally displaced people inside Somalia. The country's displaced population is constantly on the move in search of humanitarian assistance and a peaceful environment.

The U.N. refugee agency, or UNHCR, said there are about 1.35 million displaced people inside Somalia. But the number is only an estimate.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees representative for Somalia, Bruno Geddo, said his agency has faced a daunting task to make an accurate count.

He said displaced families move frequently, and satellite images pick up only temporary, makeshift shelters that remain empty most of the time, except when there is an aid distribution.

"Satellite imagery estimates, satellite cannot estimate how many people are living actually in each makeshift shelter," said Geddo. "They can only count the shelters but cannot confirm how many people are inside. "And therefore it's very imprecise measure of science, [a] very approximate rough estimation.”

Geddo notes humanitarian aid agencies use the satellite imagery for a working figure to provide assistance to the displaced, but not exact figures of the population in a given area.

He said the refugee agency is planning to carry out its own ground surveys in the Afgoye corridor - home to tens of thousands of displaced Somalis - to try to determine the exact number of Somalis in the 30-kilometer stretch.

“We will try to get access into Afgoye corridor, to do ground surveys, to try and see if we can do better than satellite imagery alone," said Geddo. "But it will remain a challenge because the gatekeepers will continue to provide figures which do not correspond to reality.”

The gatekeepers, in some areas, are al-Shabab militants who still control parts of southern and central Somalia.

It may be hard to get an exact number of people displaced in a given area, as the frontline of the military offensive against al-Shabab shifts from one region to the other.

For the last few months African Union forces have been announcing their offensives to give people time to get out of areas under military operations.  

According to the UNHCR, displaced people have cited a number of reasons why they left their villages and towns. Some of the IDPs expressed fear of being forcibly recruited to fight for al-Shabab. The rebel group also increased taxation on the already-suffering population in areas still under its control, especially the Juba and Shabelle regions.

The group has been dealt a blow both militarily by the African Union forces and Somali government fighters, and financially after losing vast amounts of land it once controlled.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid