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Somalia: a helping hand for returnees in the Juba valley

29-03-1995 News Release 13

For some time the communities in the Juba valley in southern Somalia have been neglected or forgotten by the international community and NGOs, which have increasingly focused their attention on areas of the country considered to be more secure. Soon after the civil war began in 1991, most of the local population fled the fighting and settled in refugee camps near the border in Kenya. Many of these camps were closed in 1994 and people started to trickle back to their homes. As the situation in the Juba valley has become more stable, the numbers returning have steadily increased. But resettlement has not been easy.

For many returnees the main problem has been getting home from Doble, the Somali border town with Kenya. Because of insecurity and lack of transportation, the limited supplies they are given when they leave the camps are often used up before they reach their destination.

According to Fred Grimm, head of the ICRC's Somalia delegation in Nairobi, " Many families have to walk great distances back to their homes, a journey which in some cases can take over a month. They arrive there with nothing, so our idea is to give them a helping hand " .

Aid distributions began on 24 March for families living near Doble, Afmahdu, Kismayo and villages on both sides of the Juba river. In the next two weeks about 30,000 families will receive seed (including vegetable kits), mosquito netting, fishing tackle and plastic sheeting. Almost 84 tonnes of relief supplies will be flown to Kismayo and Marere or taken by truck across the Kenyan border to Doble and Afmahdu. The aid will be given not only to returnees, but also to those who rema ined in the area during the fighting.