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Somalia: ICRC warns of worsening humanitarian situation in central region

24-02-2009 Operational Update No 02/09

The humanitarian situation in the central region of Galgadud, north of the capital Mogadishu, is among the worst in Somalia: the plight of thousands of displaced people is compounded by severe drought. The ICRC provides more than 100,000 people with shelter, water and medical care.


 A population in distress  

Nearly two decades of conflict, poor security conditions and widespread lawlessness continue to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. In addition, recurrent droughts and high food and fuel prices contribute to food insecurity and high malnutrition rates in many areas. Millions of Somalis continue to depend on humanitarian assistance.

In the central region of Galgadud, several thousand people had to flee their homes earlier this year because of heavy fighting. Severe drought has further aggravated the situation for the displaced and residents alike. Families have inadequate shelter. They are short of water and may run out of food soon.

  ©ICRC / so-e-00424    
Somali Red Crescent volunteers distribute relief items to displaced families.    

" We fled from Mogadishu two years ago and when we arrived in Dusamareb [the capital of the central region ] we were hoping for a better life. But then we started suffering from the drought and now the conflict has followed us. We had to leave town and we will not go back in the near future. There is nothing to go back to, " said Faduma Mahmud, an elderly woman who has been displaced with her entire family.

 Emergency aid  

Working with the Somali Red Crescent Society, the ICRC has distributed essential household items to about 72,000 people in the Galgadud region. The items included shelter material, kitchen sets, clothes for adults and children, mats, blankets and jerrycans.

In December, the ICRC and the Red Crescent had already provided full food rations of rice, beans and vegetable oil to displaced people and residents in the central region.

 Improving water resources  


The drought in the central region and the lack of security have aggravated an already appalling humanitarian situation. Displaced families are severely affected by the lack of water. Most have found refuge in remote places far from water points and have to walk hours to reach wells and boreholes.

  ©ICRC / so-e-00423    
ICRC delivering water to civilians.    

" The displaced people are exhausted, " said Pascal Mauchle, head of the ICRC's Somalia delegation. " Many cannot even find a tree to protect them from the blazing sun. They sit in the open, without shelter, and struggle every day to survive in the harsh conditions. "

At the end of January, the ICRC started a major water supply operation in the region. It installed 10 water reservoirs close to major settlements of the displaced and began delivering water by truck to 60 different locations for an estimated 72,000 people.

 Supporting medical facilities  

Somalia lacks medical facilities able to cope with large influxes of wounded people and provide adequate care for the victims of violence.

The ICRC provided several facilities in the central region with dressing kits and other medical items to treat and stabilize the wounded before they are transferred to the ICRC-supported Keysaney and Medina Hospitals in Mogadishu, where over 360 wounded people have been treated since the beginning of the year.

" The medical facilities and hospitals accept all patients, regardless of their clan, religious or political background, " said Valery Sasin, who coordinates the ICRC's health activities in Somalia.

 The ICRC in Somalia  

The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. It focuses on providing emergency aid to people directly affected by armed conflict, often in combination with natural disasters, and runs extensive first-aid, basic health-care and other medical programmes to treat the wounded and sick. It also carries out agricultural and water projects designed to improve the economic security of vulnerable communities over the medium term. It works closely with and supports the development of the Somali Red Crescent Society.

For further information, please contact:
  Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia, tel. +254 20 272 3963 or +254 722 518 142
  Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Nairobi, tel. +254 20 272 3963 or + 254 722 512 728
  Anna Schaaf, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2271 or +41 79 217 32 17
  For recent TV news footage or photos, please contact Pedram Yazdi