Shelters Offer Protection in Somalia’s Puntland

Sunset is a mixed blessing for nearly 25,000 displaced people who live in Bariga settlement in Bossaso, northern Somalia. The night brings relief from the day’s sweltering heat. But darkness also brings uncertainty, especially among households headed by women whose buuls—huts made from sticks and cartons—offer little security or privacy.
 
Women in settlements for internally displaced people are particularly vulnerable to theft and sexual assault. Buuls are also prone to fire, fanned by the strong winds in Bossaso.
 
Relief has come to more than 1,600 families in the form of semi-permanent shelters funded by the OCHA-administered Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF). Implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council, the project provides housing made of corrugated iron sheets and timber, mounted on a cement floor. They provide much more safety and protection than the buuls.
 
Amina Abdullahi Haji Mohamed, a mother of eight, received a new shelter. Before they moved into their new home, two fires destroyed all her family’s belongings. “Once, thieves cut through the cardboard and cloth walls of my buul and stole our few possessions, including some food rations I had just received,” Amina recalls. “My children fell sick all the time because of the rain and extreme heat.”
 
The majority of the displaced people in Bossaso are from the southern regions of Somalia. Many had hoped to cross the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and beyond, in search of a better life, but could not afford to pay smugglers to make the perilous journey. The UN Refugee Agency estimates there are at least 50,000 displaced people living in Bossaso.
 
Hassan Noor-Orie, a 43-year-old father of five and recent recipient of a new home says he can now protect his wife and children from the harsh weather. “I can lock my house when I go to work in town, which I could not do previously.”
 
OCHA has been instrumental in coordinating the shelter project, which brings together Government officials, and local and international NGOs to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable displaced families.
Hassan Noor-Orie sits outside his newly constructed shelter with his family. © OCHA/R. Maingi