- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MOGADISHU, Somalia — In parts of Somalia’s capital, rubble-strewn lots that once served as sniper positions have been rebuilt into well-maintained homes, hotels and shopping plazas.

Housing prices have doubled, or even gone up tenfold.

More than a year of relative peace in Mogadishu has led to a property boom, but one that comes at a bitter price for the poor and those who were victimized by two decades of war and anarchy in this Horn of Africa nation.

Eager to cash in, landowners are forcing out thousands of squatters and other families who can’t afford the higher prices, leaving them no recourse but to move to camps for displaced people on the edge of Mogadishu where there are no services or security.

The government this year also forced out thousands of people who had been living in government-owned buildings.

Those who fled fighting in other parts of Somalia or the harsh Islamic rule of al-Shabab militants in the south in the past years and who set up in empty lots in the capital, forming impromptu refugee camps, now find themselves having to move again.

Inside the Sigale camp in Mogadishu, dozens of families on a recent day discussed their pending evictions. Next to their tents, their belongings sat piled up, ready for the journey.

“We have no choice but to go,” said Nurto Yusuf, a mother of eight who was standing near her husband’s handcart. Her children played soccer nearby.

“The stability is giving opportunities to the rich and depriving the poor,” she said. “We don’t know where to go.”

‘There is no prosperity’

Rapes have occurred at the sunbaked Maslah camp, which is home to thousands of families, some of whom said they were forced to leave their abodes at gunpoint and with no notice.

The camp is surrounded by thick shrubs, and many women stay up at night, fearful that a rapist might be lurking around.

There are no toilets, and the women risk attack if they use the surrounding bush at night.

“I was raped two nights ago when a man with a knife stopped me near my hut,” one refugee woman with five children said through tears. The Associated Press does not typically identify victims of sexual assault.

“There is no protection, no housing,” she said. “We are vulnerable to rape and hunger.”

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