Food Rations Key As Refugee Tide Reaches Ethiopia

Sadia, 24, fled her home in Mogadishu after gunmen broke into her house and killed her father.

(Copyright: WFP/Melese Awoke)

Following the surge in fighting in Somalia over the past months, more and more Somalis are fleeing to Ethiopia. Among the recent arrivals is Sadia, who has lost her family. WFP food rations provide one certainty in her life as she scans the incoming refugees for a familiar face.

DOLO ADO -- Sadia, a 24-year old woman from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, is one of the 25,000 refugees that have arrived in Dolo Ado in southern Ethiopia over the last year, fleeing the ongoing fighting in their country. So many are coming now that a new camp had to be opened last month in nearby Malkadida.

“I have no news about my family since members of an armed group entered our house in Mogadishu and started shooting around nine months ago,” says Sadia, as she watches the 700 refugees that are arriving in the Malkadida camp.

“I know that my father and my brother were killed. But with every new person that enters the camp I hope to see a familiar face who can give me news about the rest of my family.

Bullet wounds

The gunmen who entered her home in Mogadishu shot at Sadia as well. Afterwards, she spent three months in a hospital in the capital, having treatment on the bullet wounds in her arm.

As soon as she was able to stand up, Sadia left everything behind and took the first truck available to the Ethiopian border. At the end of this dangerous journey, she reached the refugee transit centre at Dolo Ado, where she received some further medical treatment.  

From there she was dispatched to the new Malkadida camp, where the days pass slowly. “We receive cereals, beans, oil, sugar, salt and blended food from WFP,” she says, noting that this food, given in monthly rations, is enough to ensure two meals a day.

Second camp

In order to buy some milk and vegetables from time to time, she and a distant relative she met here in the camp look for odd jobs to do.

The number of Somali refugees arriving at the Ethiopian border increases day by day. Already 4,200 refugees have arrived in Malkadida, the second refugee camp in the area, since it opened in February 2010.

WFP is currently feeding some 65,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia.