Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, was under the control of different clans and warlords for many years and it was only recently that the government was able to regain complete control. The situation remains tense, and both the city and the country face a number of pressing challenges.
Chief among these is the ongoing conflict with terror organisations, which has particularly affected Mogadishu and the surrounding area. Added to this are the regular drought induced crop failures that threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands throughout the country.
In need of refuge
Over a million people have been forced to flee due to the persistent and widespread fighting. These displaced people find some refuge in Somalia as well as in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia. Life in the refugee camps they find themselves in is hard and, without help, the children here will struggle to fulfil their full potential.
Even more worryingly, many suspect that al-Shabab is abducting children as young as ten and forcing them to fight. It is not just boys either. Human Rights Watch has found that girls are often forced to fight, perform domestic duties, or marry the soldiers. Children with no parental care are the most vulnerable to abduction, so it is important to ensure that as many children as possible have a loving home.
Added to the violence, are the frequent droughts and consequent food shortages that regularly affect Somalia. Poor populations struggle to cope when crops fail and food prices soar, which often results in widespread famine.
This affects children particularly badly and around 450,000 under fives suffer from malnutrition, with 190,000 of these cases being acute malnutrition. Not only does this lead to weakened immune systems and increased risk of disease, but it can also severely stunt growth and development in the long term.
How are we helping in Mogadishu?
SOS Children's Village Mogadishu is the only Children's Village we have in the country, though its impact reaches far beyond this specific area. It has been heavily affected by the conflict in the past, but we remain committed to supporting at risk children and families despite the challenging circumstances.
During food crises and when fighting has been particularly bad, we have provided relief to families in need. This currently includes medical support, primarily operated from our SOS medical centres in and around Mogadishu, and a food programme that distributes basic food, such as wheat rice and sugar, to about 300,000 people.
We also aim to make life for displaced children and families more bearable by setting up family friendly zones in the camps where they live. Here, children can play sports and do creative and educational activities, all of which will teach them life skills and help promote their psychological well-being.
Our Children's Village
When children have lost parental care they are able to find a loving home with one of 12 SOS families in Mogadishu. Up to 120 can be cared for at any one time and, though they have had to relocate due to fighting, all the families have stayed together and given the children the stability they need to grow up healthy and happy.
The Village is also home to an SOS nursery and SOS primary and secondary school, where up to 680 children can get an education that will help them succeed in life. This makes the Children's Village an important institution for the local community as well as the children who live there.
Young people from SOS families are able to join the SOS youth programme, where they are given accommodation and support as they pursue further education or training. Our SOS vocational centre also offers a three-year nursing course to young people from all around Somalia, helping them to get ahead and fill the massive demand for nurses and midwives in the country.
Children in Mogadishu with no one else are given hope for a bright future in our Children's Village. Will you sponsor a child a child in Somalia?