Somali town under siege with dire humanitarian situation
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Wajid, a town in Bakol region has witnessed what can only be described as ‘hell on earth’ with 432 children died of hungry and other diseases. The town lies some 340km northwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
Mohamed Joseph, commissioner for Wajid town says the minors had not received access to the services they needed such as food, water and also access to medicines.
Joseph says the town had been under an al Shabaab siege for six years that created what he described as ‘a scene of hungry desperation’.
The extremist militants blocked food deliveries from entering the town with elderly people and children spend months without provisions, he said.
He says the Somali army and African Union forces pushed the militants out of the town, but said that the extremist group is still active and also cut off all the access roads to the town.
The army are only in defensive positions and using the only hospital building in the town as residency.
The blockade made the place or any other aid organization difficult to reach the elderly and children, men and women in need of humanitarian assistance.
Since then, 537 donkey carts carrying medical supplies and other food items to the town were destroyed or burnt to ashes by al Shabaab.
Joseph added the denial of access by al Shabaab militants is an obstacle to the shipments of food and humanitarian assistance.
He also accused the extremist group of enforcing the dreadful siege with violence – by destroying foodstuffs and medical supplies before entering the town.
Dahiro Abdi, in her early 50s, a small eatery owner started now to lose hope, while saying no one could buy anything because the prices were staggering.
She says a kilogram of rice costs $3 and that the communities in the town could not buy anything for that amount.
Abdi voiced a deep concern about her tiny eating place to be closed without provisions.
“In this condition, I’m unable to provide for my children. We don’t eat often. This haunts my soul.”
Muhidin Haji Ibrahim, a 25 year old math teacher says the students huddle together on floor to take their lessons because the buildings are not furbished.
Ibrahim says the school building that they use then was once an al Shabaab camp.
He says the town has only four primary schools without any high or secondary ones.
“It is a hard task for me or every teacher in this condition. We have no educational equipments”, he said.
In 2009, the armed group al Shabaab carried out frequented attacks on UN World Food Programme (WFP) compounds in Wajid and Baidoa towns in southern Somalia.
The militant group was also accused of stealing equipment and vehicles and forcing the closure of some operations in those towns.
The violence has disrupted to reach women and children in need of humanitarian assistance.