A Shadow of Fear: The Situation of IDPs and Returnees in Afgoye

Farhia Mohamud

Afgoye district is 30 kilometers from Mogadishu’s capital; Southwest state’s interim capital, Baidoa, is 196 kilometers away from Afgoye. This distance creates a void in establishing a durable solutions unit and implementing those plans in Afgoye because of the security concerns present in the town. Therefore, the burden of receiving IDPs and returnees fell on the shoulders of the host community due to the absence of institutional support from government actors.

Climate change and security are the primary reasons that have displaced thousands of Somalis from rural areas and villages into major cities and their surroundings. The majority of returnees in Afgoye fled from Yemen due to the civil war there. Ironically, both IDPs and returnees seem to have not gained the food security they came for; nor a better alternative to the insecurity they run away from.

IDPs and returnees live in fear. The district is frequently bombarded with explosives and land mines aimed at government officials and African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), and furthermore it is a hotspot for other crimes such as robbery. They worry about leaving their kids behind and returning empty-handed. They fear losing the meager assistance they receive from the NGOs, and the camp leaders must first agree with the IDPs that they will give them a share of the aid; otherwise, they risk conspiring with the landowners to have the IDPs kicked out of the camp permanently.

Women are especially afraid of being a victim of gender-based violence. They live in improvised housing with toilets made of corrugated sheets. Since the men in the camps can see through the holes in the sheets, many of the women struggle to use the restroom during the day. In turn, they are terrified of the armed men who abuse the women and girls at nights.  Despite the fears mentioned above, the IDPs and returnees in Afgoye are resilient agrarians, pastoralists, and skilled manual laborers who are moving as a mechanism of becoming free of this fear, and establishing a better life for themselves.

Understanding durable solutions

The absence of the full provision of durable solutions causes IDPs and returnees to endure further precarity. Even though bundles for food and education are offered, their quantity and accessibility are insufficient. While caring about their children’s education, parents and grandparents also require their children to miss school to assist them in household activities and earning a living for the family.

Droughts had eliminated the farming on which they had relied, and the river had dried up. The current high unemployment rate, and inflation as a problem for the displaced community in Afgoye; they know that durable solutions are everything that they don’t have at the moment.

Policy recommendations

Even the concept of “durable solutions” is unfamiliar to IDPs and returnees. They are unable to distinguish between this assistance and the regular assistance they previously received. No additional success is anticipated until the intended beneficiaries are given a fundamental understanding of the long-term solutions and how they might transition from living in camps. NGOs and law enforcement must also put in place a system of accountability designed specifically for IDPs and returnees in the event that they don’t receive what they expected. By doing so, the underprivileged may gain a voice and become unwilling to tolerate actions that are against their best interests.

Combating corruption is a much more crucial and urgent step to ensuring food security and development under the projects of durable solution in Afgoye. The conspiracies at play between some government agencies and the camp leaders sometimes results in the provision of services for people who are not residing in the camps. Furthermore, these forms of corruption also pocket a portion of the money and aid given to the IDPs.

Projects could be improved and implied in specific areas. Afgoye is the closest district to Mogadishu that falls under the jurisdiction of the South West State. The southwest state and peacekeeping mission there can find ways to restore security order in Afgoye. This would enable an increase in agricultural output, which would benefit from the sizable markets in Mogadishu. Durable solutions that are fair and inclusive can change many people’s lives in Afgoye.

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