Women in Somaliland are reportedly suffering in a makeshift camp for displaced people.
Tens of thousands of Somali rural pastoralist communities in Somaliland have been displaced thanks to an unprecedented drought, worsened by one of the strongest El Niño events on record.
But of those taking shelter in a makeshift camp in the state’s capital, Hargeisa, the women are believed to be forced to bear the brunt of the suffering.
A lack of police presence, an increase in female-only households as well as grossly inadequate sanitary facilities and lighting have reportedly led to rife sexual and gender-based violence among the camps.
Hodan Ahmedan, 23, who has lived in the camp for the internally displaced since leaving eastern Somaliland, told the Independent the dire conditions have created a dangerous environment for women.
She said: “Two days ago four men came, grabbed me and started raping me. Most women and girls in the camp have been assaulted or raped by gangs.
Conditions at the camps are reportedly dire.
“The ground is really hard here so we can’t dig to make lavatories.
“This means we have to go outside and because there is no privacy in the open, we only go once it gets dark – and by the time it is dark enough for us to go, it also becomes very dangerous as many gangs operate here.”
As well as risks of sexual assault, women are also suffering miscarriages as a result of severe dehydration and heat exposure.
Private landlords are reportedly terrorising residents and burning down shelters.
Mother-of-three Amina Abdul Hussein said the drought has affected those displaced in numerous ways.
She said: “I arrived here two months ago. The drought killed my animals. But the lack of water has affected us in many other ways.
“Just before coming here, I went into labour but I had no water and so I lost my baby. I became very weak and could not stop bleeding.”
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Amina added that the land she lives on his privately owned, and she is subjected to frequent visits by violent landlords.
She said: “If we don’t pay, they set our shelters on fire – so many have been burnt.”
According to the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Hargeisa is now home to 85,000 internally displaced persons.
The devastating drought was aggravated by a punishing El Niño climate cycle, triggered by weak winds and warm water in the Pacific Ocean.
The camp, like most of the region, receives no humanitarian support from the government or the international community.
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