Internally displaced Somali women gather with their jerrycans to receive water at a distribution centre organized by a Qatar charit Picture: REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR
Internally displaced Somali women gather with their jerrycans to receive water at a distribution centre organized by a Qatar charit Picture: REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR

The number of Somalis left homeless has surged in 2018 as thousands who had already fled war, drought and floods were forcibly evicted from mostly makeshift homes, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The aid group, in a report published on Tuesday, said one of the main factors driving people out of their homes was property developers requisitioning land, often without warning, during a building boom in the capital, Mogadishu.

More than 200,000 Somalis — or one in 60 of the population — were forcibly evicted from their homes in January-July, more than double the number in the same period in 2017, the group said. Most evictions were done without due process, including without prior notice, the NRC said, calling on the government to address the problem by developing land policies and improving access to land for those evicted.

Many had fled to urban areas after being displaced by natural disasters and conflict in other parts of the country. The aid group said Somali authorities and landowners were evicting people from public and private land mainly in Mogadishu.

"These people are already in a vulnerable position. They have nowhere to go," Evelyn Aero, NRC’s adviser for information, counselling and legal assistance, said. Somali government officials were not immediately available to comment.

A farmer with eight children interviewed by the NRC said she was not at home in Mogadishu when her family was forced out. "I came back to see my children on the street," said Halimo Sidow, who fled drought in 2017 in the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia.

A devastating drought in 2017 and floods in 2018 forced "a massive migration to urban areas", NRC said.

Somalia is struggling to recover from years of civil war and Islamist insurgency but is starting to attract investment from Somalis abroad.

Reuters

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