Fighting in Lower Shabelle region continues to cause suffering for civilians. On 17 and 18 October, fighting between non-state armed actors and state-armed actors in Afgooye and Muuri caused civilian deaths, displacement and destruction of civilian and community property. While fighting in Lower Shabelle has largely been between parties to the conflict, there is a worrying shift with non-state armed actors now directly targeting civilians.
Riverine and coastal residents in Afgooye, Marka and Qoryoleey districts have been ordered by non-state armed actors to vacate their villages. The majority of the displaced have settled with host communities in villages in Afgooye, K50, Kuntunwarey, Marka and Mogadishu. Others have joined IDP settlements in Abelow and Al-Yasir in Marka and K50 respectively. Some of the affected communities are facing secondary displacement. Civilian property, water wells and schools have been destroyed. Ambush attacks, carjacking, abduction, extortion, harassment and intimidation have been reported along K50-Marka route.
Humanitarian impact and needs
More than 29,000 people from about 30 villages have been forcibly displaced between 22 and 26 October, according to the Protection and Return Monitoring Network. The number is likely to spike as more people continue to flee. The absorption capacity of the already vulnerable host communities is overstretched. Learning in ten schools has been disrupted and as a result over 4,660 children are out of school. Access to water for domestic use and livestock for those who remain behind is a challenge as wells have been destroyed while canals that provide water to a number of villages have been blocked by non-state armed actors. The price of water has, as a result, doubled from $0.25 to $0.50 for 20 liters.
Movement of commercial and humanitarian supplies along the K50-Marka route is restricted due to insecurity. The rising insecurity and access challenges prevent the safe delivery of humanitarian supplies by road to the affected locations. Humanitarian partners have requested delivery of supplies by air, though that comes with associated increases transportation costs. Access challenges have also resulted in scarcity of commodities and increased prices across the region. For example, the price of sugar in villages between K50 and Muuri has reportedly more than doubled from $0.80 to $1.76 per kilogram.
Commercial and other livelihood activities have been disrupted, further exacerbating the vulnerability of the affected population.
Humanitarian response and co-ordination
There are humanitarian partners present in some of the affected locations; however their activities are constrained by insecurity and access challenges. OCHA continues to coordinate and facilitate response to the affected population. There are functioning health and nutrition facilities in Afgooye, Bulomarer, Janale, K50, Marka, Shalambood and Qoryoleey. Health supplies have been pre-positioned in Afgooye and Shalambood. Emergency WASH supplies pre-positioned in Marka are currently not accessible.
Despite these preparedness measures, partners have reported that the increased number of IDPs will exhaust existing supplies and as such there will be need for additional health and nutrition supplies in areas hosting IDPs. The Shelter Cluster plans to deliver some 4,500 shelter kits from Mogadishu to areas hosting IDPs in Lower Shabelle, though distribution mechanisms that preserve humanitarian principles remain a challenge. Child protection services are available in all districts in Lower Shabelle while GBV services are available only in Marka. There is need to step-up protection services to meet increasing demand.