Desperation in Somaliland: No food, only dust

Awil Raage stands among the carcasses of dead sheep and goats. Over 120 of his flock have died of hunger and thirst since December 2016. He came here from the Togdher region of Somaliland in an effort to save them. Photo: Kieran McConville

A fruitless journey

Awil came here from the Togdher region of Somaliland, desperate to find pasture and water for his animals. For a herder like Awil, livestock are everything. They’re the difference between life and death. “The conditions forced us to leave,” he says.

Awil Raage and two of his sons, Jama, 8, and Hassan,11, are camped out in Ilkaweyne, Somaliland. This area, normally one of the more fertile in the country, is now bone dry. Photo: Kieran McConville

He is in an impossible position — stranded far from home and deeply worried for his family’s survival.

Awil arrived in October 2016 with his two sons, 11-year-old Hassan and eight-year-old Jama. His wife and four other children stayed behind. By November, already weakened by hunger and stress, the animals started to die.

Awil and his sons’ few possessions at their temporary camp in Ilkaweyne, Somaliland, over 300 miles from their home. Photo: Kieran McConville

One of many

Awil is not alone in this predicament. All across this region, thousands of displaced families huddle in small shelters, watching their livelihoods slowly melt away. Muhumad Abdilahi, his face weathered and creased from 78 years of herding and hustling, has lost more than half of his flock. “This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” he says.

Muhumad Abdilahi, 78 years old. Photo: Kieran McConville

“We are waiting on nobody, except maybe Allah.”

For others, though, the tragedy has struck even deeper. Safia is a 47-year-old mother of seven. She and her husband left Togdher with 459 animals — less than 60 have survived. Devastated by his situation, Safia’s husband hung himself from a tree three weeks ago, leaving the family completely dependent on the charity of others.

Idil Abduhi at Laanbaarwaaqo in the Wajale district of Somalia’s Gabiley region. She is now receiving an emergency cash transfer and water supplies from Concern. Photo: Kieran McConville

Concern’s emergency response

Concern Worldwide is providing water trucking services and mobile phone cash transfers to displaced families in Gabiley, Somaliland. At latest count there are 20,000 displaced people scattered across the region.

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Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide

Working with the world’s poorest people to transform their lives. And we tweet.