By: Michael Boyce
Somalilandsun – Somalia is beginning to take seriously the needs of its internally displaced citizens, yet it must do a great deal more to protect and assist them.
This is one of the findings in the latest report from Refugees International (RI), When Push Comes to Shove: Displaced Somalis Under Threat. RI calls on the Somali government and its partners to halt violent evictions of displaced people from the capital, and also to combat camp ‘gatekeepers’ who steal aid and abuse civilians.
There are more than a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia, with roughly a third living in the capital, Mogadishu. Many have been forced from their homes multiple times, and some have no homes to which they can return. But in the rush to rebuild Mogadishu after decades of war, these IDPs are now being pushed out of their camps – sometimes with just a day’s notice and under threat of violence, including rape.
“These people are Somali citizens, desperate for shelter and safety. Yet unscrupulous landowners treat them with appalling indifference,” said RI Advocate Mark Yarnell. “The government must publicly condemn these violent evictions, and it must act quickly to adopt rules that will prevent them, both on private and public land. It should also make sure that any IDPs who are evicted get a safe place to live with access to jobs and services.”
The government and the United Nations must also tackle the gatekeepers who control access to Mogadishu’s IDP camps. Enabled by a lack of camp oversight, these armed agents frequently steal aid and abuse displaced families. Some UN officials have proposed training “good” gatekeepers to provide camp security, but RI believes this would only reinforce a system that treats displaced people like a commodity.
“Corruption and violence are fundamental to the gatekeepers’ role, and the UN should not enable them in any way,” Mr. Yarnell said. “Aid agencies have to increase their presence in the camps and stop delivering aid that simply gets stolen. That will be challenging, but until the government acts to sideline these gatekeepers, humanitarians have few other options.”
Refugees International is a non-profit organization that advocates for life-saving protection for displaced and stateless people worldwide and accepts no government or UN funding. For more information, visit www.refugeesinternational.org.
Contact: Michael Boyce +1 202 361 6131, firstname.lastname@example.org