Around 30,000 families living in six drought-stricken districts of Somaliland are not able to get relief aid due to a protracted dispute over political administration.
People living in the deprived districts of Hayaabley, Ellahelay, El-Sheekh, Abdi-Gedi, Bildhaaley and Saleysay they need urgent water, food and medical services. These areas include some that were declared to be in a state of emergency in January due to the drought.
These districts have been contested by North-western region and Awdal region for 20 years. There are no local or international aid groups working there.
“We don’t know where to get help from, the people are confused!” Hassan Osman Hersi, the chief of Abdi-Gedi, told Radio Ergo.
“Our neighbouring area receive aid but the aid workers and their vehicles are not able to reach us. This dispute has affected the lives of the people and no one seems to be concerned about it.”
Lughaya, 45 km from Abdi-Gedi, received aid and water deliveries last month.
The Somaliland administration receives aid from international organizations and transfers it to the regional governments. The regional governments send aid to the districts for distribution to families. However, as these six districts do not fall under any region, they do not get their share of aid in most cases.
Chief Hassan told Radio Ergo that the people desperately need food aid, water and health services. Families are helping their relatives and neighbours who are needy to get one meal a day. Some places have been hit by diseases including diarrhoea and there are no health services.
There has been no rainfall here in the last three years. There is water and food scarcity and high numbers of livestock have died.
Busaad Riyaale, a single mother of five, was displaced from the rural areas to Bildhaaley district. She had 120 goats, but only seven survived the drought. Since she moved six months ago she has been taking her goats to the market but cannot find any buyers.
“We are not expecting anything from anyone, we don’t know where to go to,” Busaad said over the telephone line.
The nearest two hospitals these people could get to are in Borama, 80 km away, and Hargeisa 90 km away.
Guled Ahmed Jama, head of the Human Rights Centre in Somaliland in Hargeisa, told Radio Ergo the conflict showed the lack of basic human rights for people in such hard times.
“Geographically, there is a dispute over which administration these districts fall under, each of the two regions claim they fall under their administration. So if the food comes from Hargeisa, the other region complains; if the aid comes from Hargeisa, Awdal complains,” Guiled said.
“The people need to be united and agree on which region to join. This issue should not be politicized, it is the future of the people.”
Guled believes the central government should take over the delivery of critical food and other aid at the highest level until the conflict is resolved.
Some people are exchanging their livestock for food. Arte Mohamed Obsiiye and his family of six have been using a 50 kg bag of rice for the last two months. They traded two goats for the rice. Arte said every three days his two boys, aged 14 and 15, alternate walking 20 km to get 20 litres of water for their domestic use.
“If this situation persists people and other living things will perish and will not survive the tough times and this conflict,” he said. He had 130 goats before the drought and 40 goats survived, which he keeps in Bildhaaley.