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UN: 750,000 Somalis Could Soon Die of Famine

UN: 750,000 Somalis Could Soon Die of Famine

 

The famine that has hit Somalia hard since this past July has spread to a sixth part of the country. On Monday, United Nations officials said that 750,000 people could die unless aid efforts are greatly stepped up. Years of droughts, war and restrictions on aid groups are taking a lethal toll on the country, with nearly four million people — more than half the population of Somalia — in “crisis,” according to the New York Times. Food prices are soaring and agricultural production is the worst in 17 years, at only a quarter of what it normally is.

A number of factors have made bringing aid to Somalia even more difficult. The Guardian reports that Al-Shabab insurgents, whom the New York Times says are “one of Africa’s most fearsome militant Islamist groups,” have prevented thousands of people fleeing famine-struck areas from access to humanitarian aid in Mogadishu. Instead, Al-Shabab has taken people to the K50 camp 50 kilometers outside of Mogadishu, where 45,000 people are now living in makeshift shelters. Shafie Mohamed Abdi, a volunteer doctor who runs a clinic in K50, says that he and another doctor serve all of the camp’s residents. Most of the camp’s children are malnourished and suffering from hunger-related diseases and there have been outbreaks of both measles and diarrhea in the camp.

Al-Shabab controls most of the southern part of Somalia and, since 2007, has claimed affiliation with Al Qaeda.

Said a Mogadishu-based journalist who visited K50 of the refugees, many of whom are from the southern famine-struck regions of Bay and Bakool:

“They have become pawns. I don’t think they understand why they are not getting the same attention as those in Mogadishu,” he said, requesting, like almost everyone who talks about al-Shabab, not be identified by name.

An aid worker in Mogadishu described two reasons for why Al-Shabab is preventing displaced people from reaching Mogadishu:

One, they don’t want people to abandon their area of control. Two, they don’t want to be seen as unable to help the needy and their leaving is a vote of no-confidence in the group.”

Meanwhile, the situation only becomes more dire, with people arriving at the camp carrying children who are already malnourished. The K50 camp has a shortage of water, a lack of shelter and very poor sanitation.

Slate reveals the complexities of helping Somalia, noting that more money for the country will not necessarily solve its problems:

As the Guardian reported over the weekend, the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Dr Unni Karunakara, accused organizations of painting a misleading picture of the situation in Somalia because regardless of how much cash were available, hardly any relief agencies are able to work inside war-torn Somalia. “We may have to live with the reality that we may never be able to reach the communities most in need of help,” he said.

Since Somalia’s government collapsed twenty years ago in 1991, the country has gone from crisis to crisis. While aid officials predict that the drought, which has spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, will end in October, the rains may bring other dangers, including waterborne diseases like cholera and the risk of infection.

Can we just stand by and let Somalia starve?

 

Previous Care2 Coverage

Over Half of Somalia’s Food Aid is Being Stolen, Sources…

Women and the Horn of Africa: The Suffering and the Solution

Somalia Is Dying. Why Don’t We Care?

 

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Photo taken August 10, 2011, by Utenriksdept

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37 comments

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3:51AM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

very sad... Europe, USA, etc always have so much food, and so much which is thrown away every day. And other countries have famines, wars, catastrophes,... they would be happy if "we" could give them the overabundance.

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

3:16AM PDT on Oct 18, 2011

noted.

10:18PM PDT on Oct 15, 2011

War and restrictions on aid groups since the government collapsed over 20 years ago, in 1991?

Al-Shabab who, since 2007 claims affiliation with Al-Qaeda, also lives in the region. Not in the K50 camp area, of course, except on watch duty. Why hasn't military action been put in place and/or executed? 20 years and counting ...

1:24AM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Lets face it saving human life has a low priority in this world unless the country has vast oil reserves. our priorities costing hundred of billions of dollars are: looking for life on mars or elsewhere, listening for extraterrestial noise out there somewhere, reducing the carbon footprint, investing in nuclear energy, developping a mightier fighting force, building cyclotrons to accelerate subatomic particles. no, human life is expendable, it is more important to find martian microbes regardless of the cost. a very, very sad scenario. for God's sake, affulent countries please get your priorities right.

3:52AM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

The US government should stop funding warlords viz:

"A covert effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to finance Somali warlords has drawn sharp criticism from American government officials who say the campaign has thwarted counterterrorism efforts inside Somalia and empowered the same Islamic groups it was intended to marginalize." NY Times. June 2006.

Might have known the CIA are behind the instability. They are always plotting coups and regime changes, making enemies and putting other countries at risk of a terrorist attack. Meanwhile almost a quarter of a million Somalis face the possibility of starving silently to death.

1:14AM PDT on Sep 10, 2011

Somalia is still under the rule of warlords. How do you feed a country where there is no control? In the past, there are many aid groups that sent monies, medicines and supplies and foodstuffs to Somalia. Well, the funds hardly made it to feed the millions in Somalia because of corruption either at the UN or the funds were gone before even reaching Africa. As for foodstuffs, which are mostly raw food, the rebels and the warlord factions rob the UN trucks or trucks belonging to aid groups. Most of the time these convoys have to pay substantial fees to make sure that their supplies reached the intended destinations. Till today this is still a very sad and dire situation. The only way is to ensure that there are enough security escorts to make sure food and medical supplies reach their destinations but its a real challenge.

5:14PM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Sadly noted................. petition SO signed.

12:18PM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

It seems like no matter how much helps get there, it just isn't enough.

4:38AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

The famine & drought are terrible for those people and wildlife. What is more terrible is that money, food, water, clothes, most aid sent to help those most affected, never reaches them. Instead it goes into the pockets and mouths of thieves, mercenaries, and the political leaders in many ways. Sending aid, is like pouring water down an endless hole but not reaching those in need.

8:57PM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

And we just keep on burning oil and coal....

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