Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia are facing an “intensifying risk of COVID-19” as their numbers continue to increase due to fighting, floods, drought, and “the worst locust invasion in more than 25 years,” Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
“By 19 July, there were 3,119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Somalia, almost half recorded in Banadir region … [which] hosts about 500,000 IDPs spread in some 700 settlements. The IDPs are grappling with forced evictions, lack of jobs and inadequate health services in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” read a report by the humanitarian group.
It called on Somali authorities and international partners to ensure basic facilities such as water, sanitation, health, and adequate housing for displaced people amid “severe overcrowding” at IDP settlements.
“The vast majority of IDPs are living in overflowing under-serviced camps where clean water and sanitation is inadequate and access to healthcare is extremely limited,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa.
A number of people interviewed for the report complained of limited access to healthcare facilities due to night curfews and other restrictions, as well as a lack of COVID-19 testing facilities in the IDP camps.
A mother of seven in Dayah IDP camp in Banadir’s Kahda district, who fled from conflict in the Lower Shabelle region, said she had no choice but to give birth in her makeshift house in May.
“There was no midwife and I was told the clinic was closed at the time, so I had to give birth at home. We were lucky; both my twin baby boys and I survived by the grace of God,” said the woman.
According to the report, many IDPs who earned an income from informal work were rendered jobless due to COVID-19 measures and are now “unable to meet basic needs such as buying water.”
It also highlighted the problem of forced evictions: “With IDP camps full to capacity, many displaced families are forced to set up informal structures on vacant private land where they are constantly forcefully evicted.”
“Two leaders of IDP camps in Kahda said 222 families in their camps had been forcefully evicted from private land in April 2020. The Norwegian Refugee Council documents that 33,400 IDPs have been evicted in Mogadishu since January 2020,” read the report.
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