Concern in Mogadishu

This year, a severe drought has ravaged the Horn of Africa region, causing widespread loss of livestock and therefore human life. In the rural areas of Somalia, a country ravaged by twenty years of bitter conflict, the resistance of people to withstand these shocks to their livelihood is drastically reduced.

Thousands have fled the countryside, having watched their livestock—and loved ones—die. So desperate are they that they have come to Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous cities on Earth, in search of food and humanitarian aid. One couple I met had seen the whole livelihood of cattle and goats die due to the drought, and then suffered the loss of two of their children. It was then that they decided to leave their land. In a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Mogadishu, they told of how they had just lost their third child to malnutrition. The mother was cradling her fourth child, also devastatingly ill from malnutrition.

I was in Mogadishu shooting for Concern Worldwide, an Irish NGO who first came to Somalia twenty-five years ago. They have helped hundreds of thousands of Somalis through war, drought and flooding, and are working hard to build the long term resilience of people there.

Through their education program, thousands of children are given access to, and support through, both formal and non-formal education. I was also lucky enough to visit a feeding centre they had just opened in one of Mogadishu’s IDP camps, where they will treat and prevent cases of severe malnutrition which are all to prevalent. I witnessed terrible human suffering, but also saw the hope, and relief, that Concern were giving to some of the world’s poorest people.

Mogadishu is a difficult environment in which to work, with great risks due to the conflict and of armed militia. But it is also an incredibly rewarding place to work; the Somali people are resilient and extremely welcoming, and show hope for their country which the world is turning its back on. I felt privileged to be able to work in Somalia and to shine a small spotlight on the under-documented story unfolding there.

Phil Moore is a photojournalist based in Northern Sudan. If you would like to commission him please contact Katherine Miles at Shoot the Earth.

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