Hundreds of Thousands on the Run

by Joachim Panhans, 2007/05/29

Children, in particular, are often those who suffer the most from conflicts.

The fighting in Mogadishu has stopped – hundreds of thousands of Somalis are on the run. They are fleeing to a safer area, in a land usually characterized by disorder. humedica has been operating in the border city El Waaq since 2006. It all began with a small clinic. Now, we are operating several projects. Thanks to new and generous support from the German Foreign Office in the amount of 249,000 Euros, humedica can sustain the refugee relief work in Somalia up through the end of August.

For the first phase of the project, from February through April, we have allocated 163,732.50 Euros for:

  • the running of a medical clinic in El Waaq in addition to the supporting of three clinics from a partner organization with medicine and equipment.
  • determining long-term and sustainable solutions

For humedica, the training of nurses and assistants is very important. In a three-week intensive training session, basic medicine, nutrition and hygiene are studied. This theoretical training is then applied to on-the-job training.

Help has arrived!

Because up till now there have been no official statistics about the refugees in the region, humedica, together with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, decided to take it upon themselves to register the people. This is important because only registered refugees receive attention from the larger organizations. In addition, the statistics also help to make the relief operations more efficient. From the currently registered refugees, about 66% are children ranging from 0 – 15 years of age.

2,500 families have already been registered and have received food (rice, lentils and oil) and supplies (tarps, water jugs, cookware and soap). Just how important these basic things are is made clear to us from the story from Sacdiyo.

Distributing mosquito nets

Sacdiyo (Saadia) has five children. Six months ago, they lived on a small farm in Diinsor, where they planted corn, sorghum, and various vegetables. With this they had a stable living. In January, the 28-year-old had to flee. The conflicts between the so-called “Islamic Courts Union” and the Somali transitional government were approaching too close, forcing them to leave their home. After a twenty-day walk on foot and ten day drive in a truck, they, along with ten other families, arrived in Busaar. Here she was able to count on the help of her relatives, who took her in and gave her some support. Now, they all have to share the small amount of food her aunt is able to acquire. Cookware, water containers, beds and other household goods must suffice for the two families. Together, they built a small hut, but it offers no protection from the sun, rain or dust: balls of grass, cardboard and old clothes serve as a roof for the new home of the family. She has no income. Sacdiyo now collects firewood in the area and tries to sell it in order to make at least a little money for her family.

A bag of rice and a little hope for the upcoming weeks.

The help that humedica, through the generous support of the German Foreign Office, can give to the people like Sacdiyo, has changed their lives. Sacdiyo and her family now have their own hut, with a large tarp for a roof. She has her own household goods, and doesn’t have to burden her relatives anymore; the soap will keep the family clean for the next several weeks. The constant question, ‘what will we eat tomorrow’, won’t have to occupy her thoughts quite so much. “We can finally live like a real family again, in our own home,” said Sacdiyo. Finally there is hope, and she can start to think again about the future: she and her husband want to try to set up a new farm and cultivate drought-resistant grains.

During the distribution, each family is registered.

humedica has received an additional 249,000 Euros from the German Foreign Office in order to continue the refugee relief work. 7,500 families will receive relief supplies. In addition, we will be able to treat another 18,000 people at the clinic and train local medical help. Together with the UNHCR, we want to continue to the registration of the refugees which will hopefully bring additional assistance to the region.

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