Kenya army: Somalis need food aid

2011-12-14 22:18
Bur Garbo - Trade stopped months ago when Kenyan soldiers came here in pursuit of al-Qaeda-linked militants. Now thousands of unsold bags of charcoal are stacked 15 high, and fishermen are prohibited from going too far from the white sand shore.

That has left Somalis in this small seaside town dependent on handouts from the Kenyan military, which again asked aid agencies to step in during a rare food distribution on Wednesday.

The Kenyans clearly realise that the ultimate success of their mission in Somalia depends on improving the lives of residents. But equally clear is that they did not plan on having to do it all themselves.

"Unless the humanitarians can help these people now, it might jeopardise our operation," said Major Solomon Wandege.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October after a string of kidnappings and attacks on Kenyan soil. Yet, what was originally touted as a punitive raid has become a long-term military commitment.

Insurgents

Kenyans have worried for years that insecurity in the failed state of Somalia would spill across into northern Kenya. They used the kidnappings as a reason to cross the border and advance into al-Shabab territory alongside a Somali militia the Kenyans had largely trained and recruited.

Rains, or politics, quickly stopped their advance and for now, Bur Garbo is as far as they have pushed along the coast.

Residents in this town of mud and stick houses earn a little cash fishing or selling charcoal to Arab traders at around $2 a bag.

Now the Arab dhows have been replaced by Kenyan navy boats and the fishermen are not allowed to go too far from shore.

Al-Shabab insurgents are waiting just across a creek, and the Kenyans are wary of boats going too far out. Wandege said they have exchanged fire perhaps 10 times in the two months that he has been in charge of the town.

On Wednesday, the Kenyan soldiers unloaded dozens of bags of rice tea and women came forward with plastic bags to collect some rations. A fighter from the pro-government Somali militia sifted through the bags, picking large clumps of mould out of one and throwing it on the ground.

"Before [food] came from Kismayo, but now there are no boats," explained town elder Abdullahi Omar Bulgas, as his associates nodded their henna-red beards around him. "It was worse, but now it is more worse."

Medicine

Many Kenyan soldiers expressed their frustration that international aid agencies were not quicker to move into areas declared to be safe. The need is immediate and overwhelming, and the Kenyan military is not equipped to cope.

"Aid agencies will be looking at what the options are: If there's access and if they can deliver aid according to humanitarian principles," said Mark Bowden, the UN's top humanitarian official for Somalia.

When a Kenyan army medic began seeing a few patients in a dilapidated house whose crumbling walls were slowly caving in, the area was rapidly swamped with scores of would-be patients.

"I have never seen a doctor in this place," said 27-year-old Sokorey Ahmed as she jiggled a sleeping, sweaty infant against her chest and used the other arm to press against a sore stomach. "I can never remember seeing one."

She would only have been 7 years old when Somalia's last central government dissolved into bloody clan warfare.

"We don't even have enough malaria medicine to give these people. Sometimes we go to their house secretly to give medicine instead of being here because then they all come," said Wandege as he looked over the robe-clad women and children lilted up patiently in the sun.

"It is a real headache for us. Let's move from here. They are going to think we can help them."
- AP
Read more on:    kenya  |  somalia  |  east africa  |  security
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/World
 

LOL! 7 brutally honest texts from parents

Sometimes honesty is not the best policy!

 
 

For chic geeks...

This lock means keys are something of the past!
DuckTales theme song gets 'quacked-up'
7 things you didn't know about Apple
Facebook testing self-destruction posts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

30% off new fiction books!

Save 30% on new captivating books from great authors such as Wilbur Smith, James Pettereson and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

Camping gear!

We’ve got all your camping must have’s right here at mind blowing low prices. Check them out now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to be too up in the air with your idealistic ideas. Find an anchor to help bring them into a more realistic...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.