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Refugee Group says Situation in Somalia at its Worst

The advocacy group Refugees International says the situation in Somalia is worse than ever. More than 1.3 million Somalis are now displaced within the country. Thirty-five-thousand fled Mogadishu in October and 10,000 crossed the border to Kenya in September. In the south, one in six children under five years old is malnourished.

Patrick Duplat, an advocate with Refugees International, discussed the challenges facing the displaced as well as the problems confronting humanitarian organizations as they try to help. Duplat said, “They (Somalis) are the first victims because of multiple factors, including the ongoing conflict, drought, and high food prices. Somalis have had to flee their homes and seek refuge, sometimes in other regions of Somalia, and other times have had no choice but to leave the country in the hopes of finding a more stable place to stay where they can find food. Their first concern is their survival and the care of their family.”

The refugee advocate said, “The challenges aid workers face are entirely different, but their primary concern is to be able to deliver services to the Somalis and they are unable to do that because they’re…under attack.”

Duplat explained how piracy is contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. “It’s bringing attention to Somalia, but unfortunately it’s the wrong kind of attention for two reasons: first, because it provokes the wrong kind of response, and the international community is now policing Somali waters, but this policing will do little to address the root cause of the problem, which is obviously lawlessness inside Somalia. Its also attracting attention and provoking the kind of strong response that Somalis perceive that economic interests trump their humanitarian concerns.”