Drought stricken Somalia nears famine

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Other stories from Somalia
  • 10 February 2012: Wikinews Shorts: February 10, 2012
  • 19 October 2011: Kenya troops enter Somalia after kidnappings
  • 15 July 2011: Drought stricken Somalia nears famine
  • 11 June 2011: Somali interior minister killed by bomb attack in own home
  • 24 February 2011: Pirates kill four American hostages
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Image: Dl91m.

The African Union made a plea on Tuesday for the international community to come to the aid of Somalia. This is a country where one in three, (ten million people) is suffering from a severe drought, a situation complicated by warring rebel factions. In 2009, UNICEF discontinued air deliveries to areas controlled by the Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab due to militant threats.

Last week al-Shabab said it would welcome the presence of humanitarian groups, provided aid groups did not have a “hidden agenda”.

On Wednesday, the United Nations airlifted supplies to a part of the country controlled by al-Shabab, flying five metric tons of medicines, food and water supplies to Baidoa, a rebel-held town, 155 miles south of Mogadishu. Maulid Warfa, UNICEF emergency officer, in an interview with state-run Radio Mogadishu, said a very critical humanitarian crisis exists in rural communities where people have lost their livestock and farms after the worst drought in six decades. The aid is to help them and their children who are extremely malnourished.

Cquote1.svg [Somalia’s crisis is] the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world. Cquote2.svg


When Warfa, was asked about the arrest of two aid workers by al Shabaab, one with UNICEF, Warfa did not confirm or deny it. Instead he emphasized the desperate need of Somalians for assistance.

Although some feared a new Kenyan camp would result in more Somalis fleeing to Kenya, Kenya has announced in will open a new refuge camp near the Somalian border within ten days which will hold 80,000. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said, “Although we consider our own security, we can’t turn away the refugees.”

Cquote1.svg We are no longer talking about a humanitarian crisis or a humanitarian emergency. We are seeing this as a humanitarian catastrophe. Cquote2.svg

—Jens Oppermann, the country director of Action Against Hunger

In a nearby refugee camp in Kenya where 370,000 people are squeezed into a space set up for 90,000 people, conditions are desperate aid workers said.

Somalia’s Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali in an interview with the BBC said a refugee camp has opened in Mogadishu, but that the government had “meagre” resources to help drought victims. “We are appealing to the international community to take the matter seriously and to act quickly to save as many lives as we can,” he told the BBC.

On Thursday, UNICEF said Somalia’s drought and refugee crisis is “the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world.”

On Friday, Jens Oppermann, the country director of Action Against Hunger (Action Contre La Faim, ACF), told AFP: “We are no longer talking about a humanitarian crisis or a humanitarian emergency. We are seeing this as a humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is the second consecutive year the summer rains have not come, and according to the BBC, the current drought threatens the lives of at least four million in Somalia.


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