Hundreds of displaced families have been crossing the border into Somalia’s Hiran region because there is no water and little food in their camp in Ethiopia’s Somali Region.
The lack of water is one of the worst hardships facing around families in Sarerale camp, four kilometres north of Ferfer town, which lies close to Ethiopia’s border with Hiran.
Sererale has only one well with salty water. The few who can afford it have to buy water delivered by tankers from a village, 32 km away.
Farah Mohamed Deq, a father of 18 children, arrived in the camp in May 2021 after leaving his farm in Budul village, where river Shabelle floods washed away his four-hectares of crops six times in a row.
He has been struggling to buy water and food for his family. A neighbour buying the occasional barrel of water (200 litres) for the equivalent of a dollar gives him some drinking water when possible.
“We didn’t get enough drinking water for the past four days. Since last night, we haven’t made tea as there is no water. We are in dire need of water,” he said.
Farah and his family live in a hut in the camp, where they were settled by the Ferfer authorities. They cook just one meal a day, using the little money he makes on the days he gets a building job.
“I am asked by a local family to build them a kitchen or a toilet once every three days. The person himself doesn’t have money, and we are given four to five dollars I share with three co-workers. The people here are all the same, they don’t have anything,” he said.
Six of Farah’s children are studying free at Ferfer elementary and primary school. However, he has not managed to buy books and school uniform since they enrolled last July.
Guddi Yusuf Elmi, a widowed mother of 10 living in the camp, said they had to flee drought in their rural village of Caanoole in Mustahil district. The family depends on food collected by from local families and distributed occasionally to the IDPs. They often sleep hungry at night, as she has no job.
“I am facing the same hardships here that forced me to flee our village. The last time I have seen anything like this was six years ago,” she said. Four of her children are at Ferfer elementary and primary school, where tuition is free.
The head of the IDPs and reconciliation office in Ferfer district, Hussein Dore Mohamed, said the IDPs faced terrible conditions without water and with no jobs available to earn any income.
He noted that 236 of the 483 families living in the camp have left in the past two weeks and moved across the border to Beledweyne town in Somalia’s Hiran region in search of water.
“The ones left behind here are the most vulnerable people; they are mostly elderly and children, who couldn’t afford to move away,” he said.
Hussein said they appointed a committee that had collected food several times from the locals to distribute to the IDPs, but the magnitude of need required the involvement of aid agencies.
Hussein noted the district administration had provided free water and food to the displaced families between March and May 2021. However, it could not continue due to financial constraints.
Source: Radio Ergo