Displaced Somalis share Ramadan meal under shadow of COVID-19

In an internally displaced camp in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, women in bright, patterned scarves crouch as they cook – their clothes contrasting with both the shine of the makeshift metal walls and the dull of the makeshift sand floors.

They are preparing their Iftar, the evening meal in which Muslims break their fast. But the women aren’t just cooking for themselves. With cash growing scarce as the coronavirus deals a blow to the economy, they are pooling what they have with neighbours in order to cobble together a communal meal.

“When the coronavirus broke out in the city and people stopped going out to get work, we start putting together half a dollar, one dollar, or two dollars. We share Iftar as families in the evenings. We eat together and then leave,” said resident Mohamed Warsame Hirsi.

While Somali officials have recommended that people social distance and wash their hands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, both are difficult requests here.

Families simply couldn’t afford to buy food for Ramadan on their own, said Wali Islow, another resident.

Somalia has 928 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Thursday, according to a Reuters tally based on government statements and WHO data. And with 44 deaths, it has the largest number of casualties in the region.

“We do not have soap to clean our hands as the virus spreads,” Khadija Diriye said.

People are praying for some respite.

“We wish Allah to give us good recovery from this disease,” Hassan Ibrahim.

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