Violence against women is on the rise as the food crisis continues in the Horn of Africa. As they flee to refugee camps with their children, women are vulnerable to robbery or sexual assault. When they reach the camps, the threat of violence is still severe. According to a UNHCR report, sexual and gender-based violence has quadrupled in several camps over the past six months.
“Women have told me about being raped on the way to the refugee camp,” said Alexandra Lopoukhine of CARE Canada. ”We’re noticing a lot of trauma among the refugee population.”
The surge in violence continues even as the world attempts to bring aid to drought-stricken Somalia. The UN declared famine conditions in two areas of Somalia last week, but the funding for aid just doesn’t seem to be there. Oxfam estimated that $1 billion is needed to deal with the crisis, and castigated the international community for failing to step up.
The process of getting food into the country is highly fraught. Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has warned that 3.5 million people may starve, but the Islamist militant group which controls large segments of Somalia is making it difficult for the UN to administer aid. Al-Shabaab, the militant group, has banned the UN’s World Food Program from its areas, so people are fleeing into the capital, where a weak African Union-backed government controls some neighborhoods.
The crisis is growing in Somalia. And it will continue to grow unless the international community steps up. Although the total amount of money needed to lift Somalia out of its dire conditions is vast, the WFP has information about how you can do your part. Follow this link to learn more about how you can save lives in drought-stricken East Africa.
Photo from expertinfantry via flickr