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San Diego Man Hands Out Food Aid In Somalia

By Amita Sharma

Aired 9/20/11 on KPBS News.

A San Diego man delivered aid to 250 families in Somalia this week. He said Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, is now a massive refugee camp.

Somalian refugees wait in the registration area of the Ifo refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 20, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya.
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Above: Somalian refugees wait in the registration area of the Ifo refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 20, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya.

A San Diego man delivered aid to 250 families at refugee camps this week.

San Diego Somali Youth League leader Abdimalik Buul says he distributed bags of rice, wheat and sugar to people at a camp inside the capital Mogadishu. He also passed out tarp for tents, mats and silverware. Buul says refugees were grateful to receive the aid from San Diego.

He says hungry refugees are descending on Mogadishu from all over the country.

"The city is in shambles," Buul said. "The infrastructure has collapsed."

Buul said refugees are settling in on any empty space they can find: corners, abandoned buildings or next to mosques.

"There are little makeshift refugee camps all around the city," Buul said. "The people are relocating wherever they can because the refugee process is taking too long.”

Buul, who is 24, hasn’t been to Somalia since he fled when the civil war first started 19 years ago. He said he has mixed feelings about the trip. When he first left the airport in Mogadishu, he said he saw beauty...the picturesque seaside, but as he turned toward the city he saw hungry refugees and well-armed people.

“And then you know that you’re in a war zone," Buul said. "Every single street you see - several militias - but everyone you see has guns and it’s sad.”

There have been reports that government soldiers have robbed aid trucks and shot refugees.

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