Hopes for the future in Mogadishu

Conflict and drought are affecting the population in Mogadishu, where thousands are entirely dependent on emergency relief. However, the situation is changing for the better, says Danish Refugee Council's Secretary General, who has just returned from the Somali capital. The Danish Refugee Council will increase its focus on long term sustainable solutions.

The line of people in front of the16 soup kitchens run by the Danish Refugee Council is long, dense. It is a clear evidence that the poor and displaced people of Mogadishu have been robbed of the possibility to fend for themselves for far too long. Since 2007, the distribution of the hot food has been the Danish Refugee Council's single largest relief effort in the Somali capital.

"It's amazing to visit the DRC soup kitchens with capacity to enable up to 100,000 people to survive each day - and for years it has been the only possible way to assist the most vulnerable people. At the same time it is terribly depressing that people have to stand there passively waiting for a bowl of hot food - they lack the ability to provide for themselves, "says Andreas Kamm, Secretary General of the Danish Refugee Council and just returned from Mogadishu.

Andreas Kamm describes the security situation in the city as chaotic. At the same time he sees the potential for change. The everyday life is beginning to return to the streets.

"I met a man who believed it would soon be time to introduce tourists to Mogadishu - the beaches are of course wonderful! But that will probably take a long time. However, it was nice to experience people believing that things were improving – seeing a future for themselves. They have lacked that feeling for a long time, "says Andreas Kamm.

The Danish Refugee Council has responded to the small signs of normalization by increasing focus on the long term, sustainable efforts leaving more responsibility to the beneficiaries. It enables people to take an active role in shaping their own lives and helps strengthening the civil society.

"The crisis has subsided but not ended and many people will still depend on food from soup kitchens, emergency packs and clean water. But we are starting the process of moving people from passive relief aid to more sustainable forms of assistance, including cash relief, education, support for small businesses and paid labour, "says Andreas Kamm.

The Danish Refugee Council is present in Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia - all the way down to Mogadishu. The program in Mogadishu is one of DRCs largest with 20 to 25 different projects running at all times.