One month after the Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military operation in southern and central Somalia began six regions have been directly impacted: Bakool, Galgaduud, Gedo, Hiraan, Lower and Middle Shabelle. The situation remains fluid with continued reports of temporary movements. According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, between 40,000 and 44,000 people have been on the move since the offensive started. Work is ongoing to verify the nature of these movements. Reports from humanitarian partners and local authorities indicate that people have returned to some towns, which they had left as a precautionary measure, for example in Bulo Burto and Maaxas in Hiraan region and Waajid in Bakool region. Aid workers continue to assess the humanitarian impact and needs and appropriate emergency response. A key priority is to ensure safe and predictable access to do vaccinations in recovered areas. More than 550,000 children remain unvaccinated since 2009 in areas that were under Al Shabaab control.
Al Shabaab continued to restrict movement of people and control of supply routes to most of the recovered areas, according to local authorities and humanitarian partners. This has negatively impacted the availability of basic commodities in local markets in Bulo Burto,Buur Dhuubo, Rab Dhuure, Waajid and Xudur and has resulted in an uptick in prices of food items and other consumables. However, accessibility to food items has not been assessed. Reportedly, water sources in Ceel Buur in Galgaduud region have also been contaminated. According to local authorities, shallow wells had been filled with sand and cement and mines planted around borehole generators.
Humanitarian impact/needs and response:
Bakool region: An inter-cluster assessment mission to Waajid on 29 March found that about 3,000 people, half of the town’s estimated population were present in the town. The preliminary assessment findings were that food, nutrition, and health were main concerns for the community, but that the people who are currently in the town had adequate access to water. There were four public shallow water wells and an ample supply of potable water. Reportedly, Al Shabaab had removed the generators and pumps, rendering 30 of 41 wells fitted with hand pumps dysfunctional. According to the community, malnutrition was a major problem and immediate delivery of therapeutic nutrition supplies was recommended. No vaccinations have been conducted, including polio vaccination campaigns, in the last six years due to lack of access. Following the rapid assessment mission to Xudur on 20 March, medical supplies enough for 6,000 people for three months were delivered by air. Nutrition therapeutic supplies for 300 children for one month were also delivered.
Bay region: An estimated 340 displaced people arrived in Baidoa town mainly from Waajid district and other parts of Bakool and 325 people arrived from Qoryooley, Lower Shabelle region. The unrest that followed the political disputes in the region in late March delayed a planned verification exercise and assessment of needs among reported new arrivals between 17 March and 6 April in Baidoa.
Gedo region: Hundreds of people arrived in Luuq, Gedo region from Waajid in Bakool region and Buur Dhuubo in southern Gedo. About 2,150 people have arrived in Luuq since the beginning of March, according to UNHCR.
Hiraan region: Following the take-over of Maxaas town on 24 March, the security situation has improved and some people who fled the town have reportedly returned. On 31 March, an inter-agency assessment was carried out in Belet Weyne to establish the trends and needs of people arriving from Bulo Burto. About 5,700 people have arrived from parts of Galgaduud and Hiraan. Humanitarian partners are finalising response plans.
Lower Shabelle region: An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people arrived in Marka from Qoryooley in Lower Shabelle since mid-March. Meanwhile, about 6,100 people from Qoryooley moved to Mogadishu, the majority are currently residing in Hodan, Sarakusta and other districts in the outskirts of the capital. The arrival of more people in the outskirts of Mogadishu where living conditions for displaced people are poor is a cause for concern.
Outlook and challenges:
Security and access remain the primary challenges to conduct rapid needs assessments and deliver humanitarian aid. Should supply routes continue to be blocked a rise in prices and reduction of basic commodities in recovered towns could further worsen food security in the affected districts. However, it is too soon to determine the impact. So far, there is no safe, predictable and unfettered humanitarian access and both movement by air and road can be difficult as rains have started. Access to outlying villages remains challenging due to insecurity. Despite these access challenges, rapid needs assessments are being organized to Bulo Burto in Hiraan region, Marka in Lower Shabelle, Buur Dhuubo and Garbahaarey in Gedo and Afgooye corridor to assess any humanitarian needs.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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