Wednesday , 19 February 2020

Interview: Flood victims say they are being excluded from aid

Radio Ergo listeners have been calling our toll-free feedback line in large numbers to share their general experiences around the floods, especially in the Hiran region. Many flood victims have been reporting grievances over what they say is unfairness in the distribution of relief supplies.

Our producers interviewed several of these callers back to get more details about their complaints. The following are transcriptions of some of the interviews. The full names of interviewees have been concealed.

Female caller ‘A.H.A.’ has six children, and is currently living in El-Jalle among other displaced families after they fled their floods home in Beletweyne. She says she has received no aid at all, whilst others have been registered and have received relief items.

AHA: Aid is being diverted and has not yet reached us.

Ergo: How is aid being distributed? Why did you miss out on aid when you are among those who need it most?

AHA: The aid is being distributed according to clan-based sharing. People who distribute the aid organize people into clan groups. The aid is being distributed that way and so that way some people miss the aid.

Ergo: It is about a month since you fled your home in Beledweyne?

AHA: Yes, it is.

Ergo: Since then, have you received any aid at all?

AHA: No, I got nothing.

Ergo: Have you ever gone to complain to those distributing the aid?

AHA: No, I never went, once I saw the aid was denied to us I kept silent and stayed at home.

Ergo: Did they ever come to your home or have you ever gone to a place where the distribution was taking place?

AHA: No, because they visit registered homes and leave the other ones.

Ergo: So, before the distribution, people are registered?

AHA: Yes, and when aid is brought, those strong ones take it and the weak people are left behind.

Ergo: Is there a place or an office where you can lodge a complaint in Beledweyne?

AHA: No, there is nowhere.

Ergo: The administration and elders, don’t they have committees, didn’t you meet with them?

AHA: No, I did not meet with them.

Female caller ‘S.F.’ was displaced from Beletweyne and is staying with her six children in a hut they put up in Banaaney, 10 km south of the town.  Her husband has gone to El-Jalle looking for casual work to try to support them. She says aid is being diverted by the most powerful clans.

SF: Aid was brought several times but personally nobody gave me anything.

Ergo: Now it is now close to a month since you fled from your home, did you get any assistance?

SF: No, even yesterday [20 November], aid was brought into the village but I was not given anything.

Ergo: What kind of aid is being distributed?

SF: Money was brought, even people were given SIM cards. Nobody gave me a SIM card. Foodstuff was brought, and nobody gave me any food. People were given everything but nobody gave me anything.

Ergo: How is the aid being distributed?

SF: The aid is being distributed based on clan sharing.

Ergo: Is aid being given to certain clans?

SF: Yes

Ergo: Are you not from the clans from the area?

SF:.Yes [implication that she is from a minority clan].

Ergo: Did you not get any food?

SF: No. Those who distribute the food give aid to people from their clan. They tell me to go and get aid from my clan. Nobody gave me anything.

Ergo: Did you ever meet with the committees tasked with the distribution of the aid and complain?

SF: No, all the leaders tasked to distribute the aid are thieves. They loot what was meant for the displaced people.

Ergo: Did anyone come to tell you that they will give you something?

SF: No, I didn’t see anyone.

Ergo: What kind of aid do people get?

SF: They get rice, flour, mosquito nets, and tents.

Ergo: What do you and your children need most?

SF: I do not know where to go, the food prices went up, even what I cooked for my children I got from a neighbor.

Ergo: Did that neighbor who gave you the food receive some of the aid?

FS: Yes.

Male caller ‘H.Y.A.’ told Radio Ergo he fled from flood-hit Bumurhabab suburb in Beledweyne to El-Jalle. There are 10 members in his family. He claims that ration cards are being given out at night to people from certain clans, excluding others.

Ergo: Did you get anything from the aid assistance being distributed?

HYA: No, I did not get anything.

Ergo: How is the aid being distributed?

HYA: It is being distributed in a nepotistic way, they give aid to their close relatives. The distribution is carried out in an unfair way.

Ergo: Did you go to the areas where the distribution is taking place?

HYA: Yes, I went, and I was asked if I have a card.

Ergo: What is the card for?

HYA: Before people are given food, they have to get the cards so that they access food.

Ergo: Who gives out those cards?

HYA: The agencies. Cards are being given out at night, and the cards are given to those people who are intended to be given aid, then during the day the food is being distributed to those who have the cards.

Ergo: Is the aid delivered by Somalis from other regions also being distributed in that manner?

HYA: Yes, it is done that way.

Ergo: Did you go to those leading the distribution to complain?

HYA: I did not even hear about any office receiving complaints.

Ergo: How are you feeding your family now?

HYA: I just support my family through casual work. I work at a quarry.

Ergo: The population of the town was displaced, is there ongoing quarry work?

HYA: Yes, in Beledweyne there is no ongoing work but here at El-Jalle construction is going on.

Ergo: Are there other people you know who did not get aid in your area?

HYA: Yes, there are many.

Male caller ‘A.A.A.’ from Beledweyne town wanted to challenge the use of the term ‘corruption’ to describe the accountability problems that Ergo has reported around the distribution of aid.  This is what he told us:

“I am of one of the victims affected by the floods. I heard from Radio Ergo about people complaining about the aid meant for areas affected by floods. I say it is not corruption, but the aid is being mismanaged and distributed in the wrong way.

The distribution is being given out based on clan sharing, so the aid distribution is being led by clan elders and militias, and therefore nothing reaches the poor people, and that is why things are going wrong and are happening in an uncoordinated manner.

There is nothing about the aid being discussed with the public, so the poor people who are meant to get the aid end with up nothing.”

Source: Radio Ergo

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