Nearly three decades of conflict, extremist attacks, drought, disease and even a devastating new outbreak of locusts have strained SomaliaBy ABDI GULED and MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR Associated PressMarch 29, 2020, 1:30 PM5 min readMOGADISHU, Somalia — At first, the coronavirus was just a fairy tale, a rumor along the dusty lanes of the displaced persons’ camp that Habiba Ali calls home. It seemed fantastical: an illness sweeping the world far beyond Somalia’s borders, killing thousands of people and sending some of the richest countries into panic. Then Somalia’s first virus case was announced on March 16, and one of the world’s most fragile nations staggered even more. Nearly three decades of conflict, extremist attacks, drought, disease and a devastating outbreak of locusts have taken a vast toll. Already vulnerable, millions of Somalis now contemplate a new way to die. “We have been overcome with an extraordinary fear about the disease,” Ali said as she worried about her six children. “And we are even avoiding shaking hands with people. Our fear is real, and we are helpless.” Even as mask-wearing health workers entered her Sayidka camp in the capital, Mogadishu, to demonstrate lathering up with soap and water, some authorities shuddered.


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