Zakat Foundation of America’s Post-Famine Work with Somali Refugees and IDPs
For several years, Zakat Foundation of America has been providing humanitarian support and development to address the issues facing Somali refugees and IDPs. Following the devastating famine crisis in 2011, Zakat Foundation of America has continued to provide humanitarian relief work through food distribution programs in Dadaab camps and Somalia respectively.
According to the United Nations, the Somali refugee population in the Horn of Africa has exceeded one million. These staggering statistics illustrate the consequences of the ongoing violence and political instability in Somalia. Thousands of Somali refugees continue to arrive in overcrowded Kenyan camps. Currently, most of the Somali refugee population is living in Dadaab camps in Northern Kenya. Dadaab is considered the largest refugee camp in the world. Dadaab is not just a refugee camp; instead it has developed into a permanent home for hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently stated a shortage in funds for Dadaab camps. The funding shortage creates a serious issue in providing much needed services to both resettled and incoming refugees. In addition to funding shortage, the United Nations and NGOs operating in Dadaab face a tremendous security concern. In recent months, attacks in the camp and surrounding areas have immensely impacted the work of humanitarian aid workers. These issues remain to serve as barriers in providing services to an increasingly growing refugee population who continue to face one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In a recent visit to Dadaab camps, Zakat Foundation of America representative, Mr. Yusuf Ali, stated, “The [refugee] situation is very difficult to describe. Life in Dadaab is very difficult for the Somali people. The refugees here are living in appalling conditions.” Somali refugees walk several days upon arriving in the camps, and even then, they are not guaranteed safety, water, food or shelter.
During his three day visit to Dadaab, Mr. Ali and the Zakat Foundation of America East Africa team were able to carry out food distributions feeding 500 Somali refugee families. Mr. Ali stated, “The refugees were very happy and grateful to Zakat Foundation.” Similarly, Mr. Ali arrived in El-Wak city in Southern Somalia to carry out Ramadan food distributions.
By the Grace of God, Zakat Foundation of America was able to feed about 800 Somali IDP families in Southern Somalia. Mr. Ali met an elderly Somali woman who was very grateful for receiving food for Ramadan, she stated,
“For the past five years, I had no dates to break my fast in Ramadan. Today, I have dates for the first time in five years. Thank you very much.”
During his visit, Mr. Ali met with several community leaders, Transitional Federal Government officials, and Somali families who were all very grateful for Zakat Foundation of America’s work. More recently, in Nairobi, Mr. Ali met with Kenyan government officials and the current Somali Prime Minister to discuss the work of Zakat Foundation of America in addressing the plight of Somali refugees and IDPs in the region.
In addition to immediate humanitarian relief work, Zakat Foundation of America also acknowledges the importance of long-term sustainable development projects. Zakat Foundation of America recognizes the critical need of water in post famine Somalia. Lack of access to clean, drinking water remains a prevalent humanitarian issue not only in Somalia, but across the Horn and the African continent at large. To address this dire need, Zakat Foundation of America’s One Year, 100 Wells campaign initiative has thus far built two water wells (serving most-needed communities) in capital city of Mogadishu, Somalia. Zakat Foundation of America is currently in the process of building more wells in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa.
One year after the catastrophic famine crisis, Zakat Foundation of America continues to support the people of Somalia. Zakat Foundation of America hopes to remain involved in providing both immediate relief work as well as sustainable development projects to Somali refugees and IDPs.
With the United Nations mandate for Somalia’s current government expiring on August 20, and Somali leaders set to vote on a new constitution, Zakat Foundation of America recognizes the resilience, hope and optimism of the Somali people and we pray that Allah (swt) bless all efforts of bringing forth a stable Somali government—and a peaceful Somalia, insha’Allah.