3,000 School Children Affected by Forced Evictions in Mogadishu
Somalia NGO Consortium Statement below
MOGADISHU—The UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children said on Thursday 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 internally displaced person (IDP) settlement evictions in Mogadishu that was carried out by authorities on 29 and 30 December.
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.
Somalia NGO Consortium Statement
9 January 2018
Families face heightened risk after evictions and destruction of IDP settlements in Mogadishu, Somalia
MOGADISHU—The Somalia NGO Consortium strongly condemns the recent forced evictions and large-scale destruction of settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) that took place on 29 and 30 December 2017. Over 21 IDP settlements, housing over 5,807 households, in Km13 on the outskirts of Mogadishu were destroyed.
Aid organizations and witnesses reportedly observed armed forces arriving early Friday morning with bulldozers and large vehicles, demolishing shelters, schools and other humanitarian assets intended for those recovering from drought and conflict related emergencies. The evictions were done with no prior consultations, and numerous requests by the community for time to collect their belongings and to safely vacate were not granted. Families were not provided with adequate notification and compensation; though viable relocation or local integration options are required by International Law.
Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (Article 11, and general comment 7) evictions require substantive justification, due process and consultations with communities on alternative accommodations prior to evictions taking place.
The destruction has left thousands of already vulnerable populations and their families homeless, without access to health, water, food and community infrastructures such as latrines and schools. The destruction included schools, learning centers and materials—leaving children not only homeless but also with no hope to access any form of education. These communities, who are displaced as a result of drought, are now faced with further vulnerabilities and risks including disease outbreak, exploitation and abuse.
According to OCHA reports, there are at least: 21 internally displaced settlements, 4 emergency schools, 1 Gender based Violence Center, 1 feeding center, 3 community centers, 353 small scale businesses mainly operated by IDP women, 170 emergency latrines, 26 water points, 9 Quranic schools and many critical humanitarian assets that have been destroyed at the hand of unconfirmed government security authorities.
These attacks represent potential Human Rights violations, not to mention disregard for domestic laws and policies regarding lawful evictions and the protection of Housing and Property rights.
These forced eviction are also likely to violate the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as The Kampala Convention, which was signed by Somalia in 2009 and clearly commits States to “refrain from, prohibit and prevent arbitrary displacement of populations,” as well as “Respect and ensure respect and protection of the human rights of internally displaced persons, including humane treatment, non-discrimination, equality and equal protection of law.”
The Somalia NGO Consortium is calling upon the government to respond to the ongoing situation, investigate the alleged wrongdoing and wrongdoers, protect the communities impacted and work with landowners and other actors to develop a plan that will promote lawful evictions and protect housing, land and property rights of IDPs. We call on all actors to support the IDPs to relocate voluntarily - with dignity - to places where they feel safe and secure and in a more humane manner. The Somalia NGO Consortium also urges all humanitarian actors to alleviate the suffering of the displaced communities through a multisector and interagency response. This should be done in a concerted and collective approach inclusive of immediate relief efforts, durable solutions and resilience interventions.
The ongoing drought and conflicts in Somalia continue to displace people. In 2017 alone, over one million people were displaced, living in IDP settlements across the country. As the drought is not over yet, we are likely to see more people moving to IDP settlements in search of life saving humanitarian support. Working closely with the government, our priority should be to ensure that they get the support they need to rebuild their lives and be protected from secondary displacements, including forced evictions. In addition to this, we need to address the underlying factors such as urbanization and limited access to land that have further exacerbated forced evictions in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia.
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Original Somalia NGO Consortium statement
Photo: IDP camp after eviction and demolition. Source: Independent (Nigeria).