Somalia’s Sufi group, the Ahlu Sunna Waljama (ASWJ), on June 2 announced it is boycotting a “consultative meeting” with the transitional government in Mogadishu next week. In an interview with Somalia’s independent Shabelle Media Network, Sheikh Omar Sheikh Abdulkadir, a spokesman for the group, said they would not attend the meeting because they were not invited, and predicted it would be fruitless. The consultative meeting is intended to broker peace among Somalia’s political and regional factions. Thousands of families have been displaced in recent weeks of fighting between the Ahlu Sunna and the fundamentalist Shabab insurgents in the central Galgadud region (see map). Dusamareb, the regional capital, has changed hands repeatedly in the fighting, prompting an exodus of the town’s residents. Drought conditions in the countryside have worsened the plight of the displaced.
“This month, we have had to flee the town three times; every night mothers make sure they have enough clothes and food ready for the children, to run if the town comes under attack,” Hawa Abdulle, a women’s activist in Dusamareb, told the UN news agency IRIN in late April. “The problem now is there is no food or water in the countryside; the current drought has made the plight of those fleeing even worse. We are caught between a war and drought. If we stay, we may become victims of the fighting groups and if we run, we are likely to end up in a place with no shelter, water or food—not much of a choice.” (Shabelle Media Network via AllAfrica, Garowe Online, June 2; IRIN, April 27)
Some 1.4 million Somalis have been displaced after decades of war.