Friday, June 6, 2014

Growing fears of diseases outbreak and death at submerged Kismayu IDP camp

KISMAYU, June 4 - Internally displaced persons including vulnerable children and expectant mothers living in squalid camps in Kismayu are spending sleepless nights in the cold without food and medicine after flush floods submerged their makeshift houses for the second time this week after 3 children died with fresh fears now mounting of diseases outbreak in the congested camps, victims and officials said on Thursday.

In one IDP camp known as Tawakal or to depend in English which houses 350 families majority of who are children, pregnant women and others suckling babies who are victims of a heavy down pour that pounded Kismayu on Tuesday night totally submerging their entire camp and forcing the poor people to spend outside in the cold and rain with their children without food or shelter.

The 3 children who died last week are said to have succumbed to complications after nearly drowning and gulping the contaminated water only to have been saved too late by their shell shocked parents.

Interim Juba Administration leader Ahmed Mohamed aka Ahmed Madobe visited the affected IDP camps and his administration has already identified a high ground government land with Kismayu where the IDPs will be moved.

Shankaron Sidi, a mother of 5 children said she is overwhelmed by the problems crying out that she urgently needs milk for her 2 months old baby boy as well as food and medicine for the rest of her children.

“My house has been totally submerged by water. I have not cooked anything since yesterday for my children because the food I received last week was washed away. We slept on top of those stones with my children,” Shankaron said inside her former shack that is now inhospitable with water almost reaching her knees.

She said her biggest worry now is clean drinking water, baby powder milk, food, medicine and shelter which they urgently need now before they fall sick and die.

“Please anyone who gets my message including the UN, ordinary Somalis and the international community should come to our rescue,” she pleaded almost in sobs as her youngest son cried on her back while the other four children stood in a state of bewilderment in a pool of stagnant water almost drowning them outside their makeshift house made of sticks and pieces of clothes patched together.

AMISOM sent a team to assess the situation led by sector Kismayu engineer captain Salim Mohamed from Kenya to investigate level of damage in the flooded IDP camp as well as several other roads rendered impassable by stagnant water and will work with IJA to come up with a permanent solution to tackle the perennial flooding issue.

Even though Kismayu city is relatively peaceful since IJA security forces and AMISOM re-captured the city from Al-Shabaab in September 2012, humanitarian agencies are yet to fully resume their operations rendering vulnerable groups like the IDPs situation to worsen due to lack of rapid humanitarian intervention whenever calamities like flooding hits Kismayu just like now.

“The submerged camp now has stagnant water mixed with sewage and to make matters worse within the same camp there is 3 fresh graves of the three children who died last week. If these people don’t get urgent help we are in for a humanitarian disaster in Kismayu,” Nur Omar, a senior Juba administration official said speaking after assessing the damage at the affected camp together with AMISOM peacekeepers.

Both victims and officials called for immediate help to avert an unfolding disaster likely to cause more death especially among vulnerable groups like children and women who have been forced to sleep rough on empty stomach in sodden and poor conditions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sierra Leonean chief of defense staff visits Kismayu.

KISMAYU, Somalia June 2 - Sierra Leone’s top military chief Brigadier General Samuel Omar Williams on Monday visited Kismayu for the first time to pay a courtesy call to AMISOM peacekeepers based there including his own Sierra Leonian forces which together with Kenyan and Burundian forces make up the three contingents stationed in the strategic Somalia southern port city of Kismayu.

After meeting various continents serving in Kismayu under AMISOM, the General was hosted to a sumptuous lunch at the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) at the main airport, UNMAS brifed him on the work and support to AMISOM and later they had an opportunity to present to the General their latest Sierra Leonean trainee bomb squad unit taught how to handle and dispose off improvised explosive devices, other unexploded ordnances and as well some soldiers taught to as sniffer dog handlers.

General Williams spent the night with his Sierra Leonean soldier’s stationed at the beach front old Kismayu airport AMISOM base along the main road to Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu which they which they collocate with the Kenya Defense Forces.

Ordinary soldiers and officers from Sierra Leone had a rare opportunity to freely meet and speak to their chief after he addressed dozens of the forces at a hilltop building surrounded by green mountains with acacia trees on one side and on the other side overlooking a splendid view of the massive the Indian Ocean.

On his second day the General paid a courtesy call to the Interim Juba Administration leader Ahmed Mohamed at State House Kismayu. The interim Juba is a federal state within Somalia that brings together 3 regions names Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Gedo.

“It is my pleasure to be in Kismayu for the first time. Am grateful to the cordial welcome the people of Kismayu have accorded me and my fellow Sierra Leonean forces serving here under AMISOM. We want to tell the Somalis that it our honor to take part in this noble African mission helping Somalia find its feet,” General Williams told the Somali leader.

The two leaders held a closed door meeting and discussed bilateral issues mainly focusing on security situation in Kismayu and the entire Somalia. President Ahmed thanked Sierra Leone for their selfless contribution with the pan African Union AMISOM mission in Somalia.

“Our common enemy Al-Shabaab, which is an international terror network, has been very much weakened thanked to our own Somalia forces and AMISOM peacekeepers fighting alongside us. In Kismayu, the enemy no longer enjoys the public support because of their inhuman treatment of the people. They are like fish removed from the water. They are getting irrelevant by each passing day. We thank Sierra Leone for sacrificing their own sweat and blood for Somalia to get peace,” Mohamed said.

Before flying to Dhobley for the last leg of his three days working visit to Somalia, Brigadier General Samuel Omar Williams, the Chief Defense Staff of Sierra Leone observed that AMISOM mission is progressing well and thanked all the soldiers and personnel involved in the peacekeeping operation.
“I first congratulate AMISOM as a force and then also wish to thank my Sierra Leonean force for their contribution to AMISOM. To the people of Somalia, we wish to remind them we in Sierra Leone had our own experience of war and the solution to the end of this civil war here lies in the hand of the Somali people. They should give their support to the mission and collaborate with AMISOM and at the end of the day we will all succeed and celebrate,” the General said, before flying out of Kismayu.