Desolate and deprived, refugees in Puntland are thankful for a respite from the fighting

Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven from their homes by almost daily fighting in Somalia's capital Mogadishu.

The UN says more than 400,000 Somalis fled the city in the last five months, many of those have headed north towards Puntland, a semi-autonomous region in the north east of the country.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow reports that Bosaso, the region's largest city, is now struggling to provide for its growing refugee population.

Pieces of cloth, cartons and papers: What would have been rubbish in other places are materials for housing in Bosaso.

The scene at an internally displaced people's camp in Puntland's de facto capital is replicated many times over in the region.

An estimated 200,000 people displaced by the conflict in southern Somalia live here in some of the worst conditions. They are the sad reality of the violence which continues to rage in the region. 

Though some have lived here for many years, the camps have also been a destination for many of the freshly displaced in Mogadishu.

Families devastated

Siatho Abdinur is a sad woman. She arrived in Bosaso from Mogadishu a few weeks ago. She fled amid heavy fighting in the capital which killed 11 members of her immediate family.

"My husband was injured by a mortar as we tried to flee," she told Al Jazeera.

"I am all alone. I can't work as I delivered my baby just three weeks ago. I just survive on what people here give me."

Despite all their problems, little helps comes their way.

Men and women here have to do all kinds of menial jobs to feed their families. They lack even the most basic necessities.

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They can get some food brought from charities but not enough to last them long and the Puntland administration says it can do very little to help.

Ali Abdi Aware, a local government minister, told Al Jazeera: "Puntland is a small state that cannot cater for all its financial needs. We are really overwhelmed by the big number of displaced streaming into our towns.

"We have been calling on aid organisations to assist then and we will continue seeking for outside help on their behalf."

Preventable illness

The sick in Bosaso, however, are in no short supply.

The local mother and child healthcare clinic is crowded with patients every day. Most of them are there for preventable but life-threatening ailments.

Farhiyo Ali, the clinic's head nurse, said: "Most of the women and children here are malnourished. They also complain of respiratory diseases. Children get sick because they don't [get] enough care.

"The women are torn between fending for the family and caring for the children, hence the poor health."

Misfortune seems to dog the displaced wherever they go.

Fires commonly destroy displaced peoples homes - there have been at least six in just one month.

Desolate and deprived, it will take the refugees here a while to rebuild their shattered lives.

But they say they are thankful for what they have: Peace and tranquillity, and escape from the killing fields of southern Somalia.

Source: Al Jazeera