Kenya: UN relief supplies reach Somali towns seized from Al Shabaab

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Relief supplies from aid organisations have reached Baardheere and Diinsoor, two towns in southern Somalia recovered from the control of the Al Shabaab militants, allowing hundreds of residents to receive medical and education services for the first time in a decade.  

“The expectations are very high and we must work hard so that we do not let down the people of Diinsoor and other areas that recently opened up,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, who wound up a humanitarian assessment mission to the two towns on Friday.

The civilian populations in the two towns were in dire need of help after going for many years without basic services including health and education.

“As I visited hospitals and schools in the two towns, I spoke to people who had suffered enormously,” Mr. de Clercq said in a statement sent to PANA.

“A woman told me she has not been able to leave Diinsoor for the last eight years.  A mother of two, the woman feared for the lives of her children as there were no health or education services in the town.”

Kenyan troops serving under the command of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) seized control of Baardheere, the capital of Somalia’s Gedo region, in a joint offensive with the Somali army on 23 July 2015 while Ethiopian troops seized Diinsoor in the Bay region, in a coordinated offensive.

The two towns have been the major logistical and planning bases for the Al Shabaab and officials said their capture would help security forces across the region to curb attacks aimed at northern Kenya.

The two towns have not been served by relief supplies because aid agencies operating in Somalia were previously unable to reach the populations because of the insecurity in the region.

“I was pleased to meet with people on the ground and see how medical and other humanitarian supplies are now going to these areas, after years of isolation.  I was particularly encouraged by the resilience and determination of the people living in the towns we visited,” Mr. de Clercq said.

The UN official said a lot of work remained to be done to help people rebuild their future after their liberation from the Al Shabaab “tyrannical rule”.

The UN official said of particular concern were the displaced people returning to their homes, many of whom were in immediate need of support.  

Only limited humanitarian assistance has been provided in either location for many years, mainly due to insecurity.
During recent military operations, hospitals were looted or burnt, leaving the civilian population in even more dire need of help, the UN official said.

On 5 August, humanitarian actors facilitated the transport of 1.2 metric tonnes of medical supplies into Diinsoor.  This helped meet the town’s critical and urgent need for medication, the UN official said.

Food, clean water and basic services remain scarce in both towns.  Schools are due to re-open soon, but infrastructure is damaged and there are not enough teachers.

Livelihoods have mostly been destroyed over the past months, leading to serious food insecurity and high malnutrition.  

Farmers have had no access to quality seeds for almost a decade and there have been no livestock vaccinations. Irrigation systems are destroyed.
-0- PANA AO/MA 21Aug2015

21 august 2015 20:45:30

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