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Somalia crisis update


Only six months ago, when the Islamist Court Union took over power from the various warlords in Somalia, there was, perhaps for the first time in sixteen years, real hope that the crisis in and around Mogadishu was coming to an end. The signs were all there: no more guns in sight, roadblocks removed, free and save access to all parts of the city and perhaps most importantly security.

Today in Mogadishu, in particular in the area where our SOS Children’s Village is located, the city is experiencing the heaviest and fiercest fighting since 1991. Many thousands of people are fleeing the city, and it is reported that there are currently over 25,000 displaced people living under trees without shelter, medical care, water or food supplies. There is also a major breakout of Cholera, which is affecting much of the population, in particular small villages along the River Shebelle in the southern part of the country.

Patients at the Mother and Child clinic, Mogadishu, Somalia

The current situation we’re working in is one of extreme tension; lots of stray bullets from the fighting around the projects, fear and uncertainty. The SOS School managed to keep its gates open until last week when the pupils finished their exams and broke up for the long school holidays; the same applies to the SOS Nursery. As for the medical Centre and our paediatric emergency programmes, patients and medical staff alike find it difficult to come to centre because of the insecurity and so at present we are running a very low profile operation. Mothers and children are showing fatigue and are becoming demoralised by the circumstances. Many are beginning to lose hope altogether. It is very difficult to keep going with our work and in particular to provide the necessary leadership to stop things from falling apart. So far, however, there have been no incidents directly affecting the SOS community and children, their mothers and our staff in the projects are all well.

SOS Children staff in-country have reviewed the emergency plan and provided clear instructions and guidelines as to what to do should the situation deteriorate further. At the moment, the children in our care are keeping our staff buoyed with their optimism and giving them the courage to go on. Without this positive outlook, everyone would have already left.

We will keep working to provide support to the people of Mogadishu and continue to believe in a better future for the children of Somalia.

Relevant Countries: Somalia.

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