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United Nations has declared a famine in two areas of southern Somalia as the region suffers the worst drought in more than 50 years. So far an estimated 10 million people have been affected by the drought in Somalia.
Millions of people are at the brink of death and despair due to widespread starvation and malnutrition. More than 166,000 desperate Somalis have fled their country to neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya. Many of those who are fleeing the country are using their very little money to pay for buses but most of them are forced to walk hundreds of miles in search for food, shelter and peace.
The problem became more severe with the fact that Al-shabab, an Al Qaeda affiliated group, imposed a ban on foreign food supplies and other essential commodities for life.
Mark Bowden, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Somalia said that “if we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia”. He further elaborated on the situation in Somalia that ‘Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life and death’
A famine in any region is declared only when acute malnutrition rate among children exceed 30 percent and 2 people die because of inaccessibility to food and water.
The Al-shabaab group banned a number of international aid agencies from operating and extending the basic assistance provided by them. In 2009 they also restricted UN World Food Programme on the basis of allegation of distorting local economy and of being anti-Muslim.
Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary for African affairs at the state department said: “The issue and the problem is Al Shabaab”. According to UN Refugee agency, every day ten children under the age of five die from chronic hunger and hunger related causes in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.
UNHCR Report further provide details into what has been the major cause of very high mortality rate, the report said that main cause was malnutrition and outbreak of measles in the region.
At the Scene
Mohamed Mwaliu, told the BBC news, “I met a woman, Amina – who came from central Somalia, somehow she was able to get a lift in the lorry but most heartening part of her journey was that she walked 50 KM carrying her one and half year old son on her back, only to realize, when she arrived that he is dead.
Furthermore, Mwaliu says people are in such dire and disgraceful conditions that they are ready to walk miles on order to reach camps set for draught victims.
In another story, Mwaliu said he met a woman called Habiba from a village near Buurhakaba city in south-west Somalia who reached the capital, around 125 miles by foot. Another woman told the BBC that she left her sick child on the road since he was too weak to make up the journey to Kenya.
The Aid and Beyond
Recently 31 ton of UNHCR consignment including plastic sheeting for shelters, blankets and sleeping mats arrived in Mogadishu airport. Despite millions of dollars being spent in aid in Somalia it is yet a distant dream to reduce hardships of the people soon.
It is only because of food shortage, absence of rains, corruption and conflict; people of Somalia are living the worst nightmare anybody can go through.
The extent of human suffering is far beyond human capabilities of tolerance and patience. The hope is for rain in October to wash all maladies of the people of Somalia and let them live a stable and prosperous life.
Image Courtesy of By SSGT CHARLES REGER [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons