MOGADISHU Jan 12 (TNS): The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children says that recent unannounced forced evictions of families and destruction of several informal settlements on the outskirts of Somali capital Mogadishu have impacted over 3,000 school children.
The two agencies in a joint statement called for action to help children affected by mass IDP (Internally Displaced Person) settlement evictions in Mogadishu which was carried out by authorities on Dec. 29 and 30.
“UNICEF and Save the Children are calling on authorities to ensure all affected children are fully supported and are relocated with their families to safe areas; and to prevent any future unannounced evictions of vulnerable IDP settlements,” the organizations said.
They said the forced evictions and large-scale destruction of settlements for IDPs are having devastating effects on children, adding that over 4,000 families lost their property and many lost their livelihoods, during the evictions at more than 21 settlements at Km13, Kahda district.
According to the agencies, the majority of the victims were women and children who had arrived only months earlier, often after traveling long distances to escape drought and conflict.
“The evictions were done with no prior consultations. Requests by the community for time to collect their belongings and to safely vacate were not granted,” the two organizations said.
“Many of the children living in the settlements saw the destruction by armed men and bulldozers firsthand, first losing their schools and shelters, books and belongings, and then contact with classmates and friends,” the agencies said.
They said the evicted families have moved into schools and public buildings in other IDP camps with some children living in the open or on the streets, without any shelter.
UNICEF and its partners reunited 35 children and four adults with disabilities with their families, counseled dozens of children and adults, and provided medical support for 35 children.
Meanwhile, Save the Children is providing 400 households with kits of non-food items including blankets, plastic sheeting, laundry soap, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, and is giving 200 households cash assistance.
The agencies said the children and their families need urgent support including health and nutrition services, safe water and sanitation, and education and psycho-social support to help them recover from the traumatic experience of becoming homeless and losing their belongings.