First cross-border transport of urgently needed aid reaches Somalis – UN

First cross-border transport of urgently needed aid reaches Somalis – UN

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A truck was allowed to cross the Kenya-Somalia border to deliver much needed aid supplied by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to the small town of Dobley where thousands of Somalis are taking refuge from recent fighting.

The border between the two countries has been closed since earlier this month, prohibiting Somalis from reaching refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs have been assisting 160,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia. Many of those unable to cross the border have taken refuge in Dobley, close to the northeast border of Kenya.

Basic household items supplied by UNHCR included 1,760 sleeping mats, 810 plastic sheets and 1,000 kitchen sets. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the NGO Oxfam contributed mosquito nets, blankets, fuel containers and soap.

Thousands were in line hoping to receive supplies, which were distributed by the Kenyan NGO Wajid Social Development Alliance, which has been working with village communities in Somalia, according to UNHCR.

There has been heavy fighting in southern and central Somalia, where the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) drove the Union of the Islamic Courts (UIC) out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu and most of the rest of the country last month.

The fighting has resulted in 400,000 Somalis being internally displaced, and of that number, approximately 6,000 are trapped near the country’s border with Kenya. Security for aid workers remains a top concern, as there have been reports of harassment and detention at the hands of the Ethiopian forces within Somalia.

While most seeking sanctuary in Dobley fled the fighting, others lost their homes when floods, affecting almost a half million people, ravaged the region late last year. These floods further exacerbated the food shortage crisis in the country.