“I SAW a father going to bury his daughter, who was wrapped in a blanket, while women carried shopping and kids went to school”, described an SABC journalist about how middle and upper classes in Mogadishu remain mostly unaffected by the famine.

Vauldi Carelse, who was in Mogadishu for 10 days doing a report for the SABC programme, Special Assignment, said her piece did not do the famine in Somalia justice.

However, despite “a new tragedy unfold[ing] every day” she said there are many families in Mogadishu who live relatively normal lives and still have access to fresh vegetables.

Carelse was speaking at the Women in conflict: Focus on Somalia debate, which is part of the Phenomenal Women series at Wits.

Dr Fahmeeda Moosajee volunteered her medical services in Mogadishu as part of the Gift of the Givers, a South African disaster relief organisation. She said they were the first support the country had received from Africa.

“Maybe if we haven’t heard [of other relief organisations] it is because it hasn’t been broadcast or organisations have done [their relief] quietly?” asked Professor Veronique Tadjo, head of French studies at Wits, in her capacity as moderator of the debate.

Carelse disagreed and said relief organisations such as Doctors Without Borders were driven out of the country by groups such as Al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group.

Most of the Somali refugees in South Africa are here legally, having declared themselves at the border according to Zaheera Jinnah from the African centre for migration and society at Wits.

Sowdo Hussein Mohamud, a Somali journalist, said she came to South Africa two years ago because of a lack of education and job opportunities in her native country.

She said it takes three months for Somali refugees to reach South Africa because they have to cross several borders and many get arrested, injured or killed along the way.

Hussein Mohamud said while she was walking in Johannesburg, a small child came up to her and said, “I know what’s happening in your country” and gave her 50 cents to help.