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.