Starvation, Terrorism and No Homes: How Much Does Somalia Need to Suffer Before We Do Something?

Many of us around the world are looking forward to the new year that has just begun. Sadly, millions of Somalis are facing another year marred by drought, conflict and uncertainty.

At the end of December, thousands of internally displaced people in Somalia—families already forced to flee their homes and communities—were made homeless once again.

Without any consultation, armed forces bulldozed shelters, schools and other buildings set up on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu to accommodate those with nowhere else to go.

The majority of homes demolished belonged to families who have fled fighting and drought in other parts of Somalia. They weren't even given time to gather their belongings.

These are people already on their knees. Failed rains over the past couple of years have left around 40 percent of the population—more than five million Somalis—facing acute food insecurity. Of these, more than one million people are at a crisis point, with a staggering 322,000 children under five years old suffering from malnourishment.

A lack of access to safe drinking water is adding to the crisis, alongside a long-running conflict which has forced over a million people to flee their homes. The victims are mums and dads, children and grandparents. People just like you and I. Nobody is immune – and children are the most vulnerable.

So when more than 21 settlements – home to more than 5,800 families – were destroyed last month outside Mogadishu, it was another devastating blow to people who have already suffered far too much.

Displaced Somalis
A displaced Somali woman walks past makeshift tents on May 24, 2017 at a camp in the Garasbaley area on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, where people converge after fleeing their homes due to the dire drought that hits the country.Thousands of internally displaced people families already forced to flee their homes and communities were made homeless once again due to forced evictions in December 2017. MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP/Getty Images

Emergency latrines, water pumps, a food distribution point and a center to combat gender-based violence were also demolished.

Not only were their homes cruelly taken from these families, but also their schools. These children haven't just lost their homes, their enclave of safety, but their only chance of education, too. And with it, their chance of a brighter and more hopeful future.

As if that wasn't enough, thousands of children and their parents are now at far greater risk of exploitation, trafficking, abuse, and disease.

World Vision was among 82 members of the Somalia NGO Consortium to sign a statement urging authorities to respond to this situation, protect the children and communities impacted and work to develop a plan that will give all displaced people in Somalia a more secure future.

Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. The families affected by this latest crisis must be given the support and means necessary to begin rebuilding their lives once more.

Over the past 12 months World Vision has helped more than one million people across Somalia, but far more assistance is needed.

2018 will bring more people like those outside Mogadishu in need of urgent life-saving humanitarian support. An immediate, scaled-up response is therefore needed to help save lives, especially those of the most vulnerable children.


Simon Nyabwengi is the National Director of World Vision Somalia.