Tens of thousands of famine-stricken Somali refugees were cold and drenched after torrential rains pounded their makeshift structures in the capital.
Rains are needed to plant crops and alleviate the drought that has lead to famine in Somalia but the downpours are adding to the misery of many refugees who live in structures made of sticks, flattened milk cans and pieces of cloth.
Disgruntled refugees in several camps in Mogadishu said on Sunday that more aid was needed.
“We are living in plight, we left our homes, lost our animals and farms so we ask everyone to help us to survive,” Abdi Muse Abshir said.
Lul Hussein, a mother of five, said her family had a sleepless night after their makeshift home crumbled.
“We are starved and we don’t have enough help,” she said. “Who’s helping us? No one! So we are already between death and bad life.”
Aid agencies have limited reach in Somalia where Islamist militants are waging an insurgency against the country’s weak UN-backed government.
The most dangerous group among the militants – the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab – has barred major relief organisations from operating in the territories it controls.
The UN fears tens of thousands already have died in Somalia in areas held by the Islamist rebels because food aid could not reach them.
The African Union peacekeeping force anticipates that al-Shabab may try to attack the camps that now house tens of thousands of famine refugees in Mogadishu, disrupting even further the distribution of food aid.
The AU force launched a new offensive on Thursday to push the militants’ front line farther back from the camps.
The drought and the famine it has caused in Somalia have affected more than 11.5 million people in the Horn of Africa and created a triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet.
The World Program says it cannot reach 2.2 million Somalis who live in al-Shabab controlled territory in south-central Somalia.
The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, in a report released on Sunday, that the military offensive against al-Shabab is raising concerns that conflict will jeopardise humanitarian response efforts during the drought crisis.
“The current conflict will cause more civilian casualties and further displacements as the number of drought IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in the capital continues to increase,” the report said.
The report says displacement is already occurring in areas close to the districts affected by fighting in Mogadishu.
The AU peacekeeping force has said it will keep aid agencies informed about the offensive to try and minimise its impact on relief work.
The UNOCHA report about the situation in Somalia up to July 29 said that up to 100,000 famine refugees had arrived in Mogadishu in June and July and a total of 160,000 since the crisis began.
Also Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI urged the world not to forget to the victims of famine in the Horn of Africa during his weekly blessing to pilgrims.
“It is forbidden to be indifferent in the face of the tragedy of the starving,” the pope said from his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, south of Rome, Italy.