Somalia (MNN) — Women and children are traveling hundreds of miles to find sanctuary from the worst violence in 16 years in Somalia's capitol, Mogadishu.
World Vision is responding to the 35,000 people in the Bay and Bakool regions, half of them children suffering from trauma and poor health. This comes after being forced to leave Somalia in December when a transitional government came to power.
"The new arrivals from Mogadishu are living in overcrowded shanties or huts; many didn't have time to pack any belongings," said Ibrahim Dima, a regional coordinator for World Vision Somalia. To make matters worse, dozens of patients are suffering from acute watery diarrhea which has already claimed the lives of several children. Reports of rape and abuse are also coming in.
Sadly, the families and clans they were traveling to find relief from were already experiencing their own disaster. "The communities here have barely recovered from the recent flooding and drought crises, and aren't in a position to help," said Dima.
World Vision has already begun treating dozens of the ill in their health center in Waajid. They plan to send food, water, medicine, cooking equipment, shelter, blankets, mosquito nets, and psychosocial support. Their assessment team has noted severe trauma among women and children from their experience of war, rape, and harassment, as well as loss of family and property, along the route from Mogadishu.
Fatuma Hassan was forced to leave her four oldest children and husband when she and her two youngest children fled for Waajid. "I tried to find them, but the fighting was so intense that we fled without them," said Hassan. Weeks after arriving in Waajid, she still does not know the fate of her family.
World Vision is requesting $750,000 in donations in order to support their response to the displaced in Somalia. With the rainy season threatening more severe health risks to children, humanitarian need may escalate in the following weeks.