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The Pope, during his weekly blessing to pilgrims, claimed from his summer residence in Castel Gondolfo, south of Rome, the only way for all of the victims to escape from the tragedy in the Horn of Africa is with “compassion” and “fraternal solidarity.”
The catastrophic drought has affected more than 11.8 million people and cover so large an area where both the populations of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are suffering from hunger.
Relief organizations still don’t know how they can deal with the worst drought in the last 60 years. United Nations’ humanitarian affairs coordination says: “The crisis in southern Somalia is expected to continue to worsen through 2011, with all areas of the south slipping into famine.”
It is estimated that half of Somalia’s people are in need of relief assistance after large periods of civil conflict and drought.
“The drought is the reason I left Somalia, I had a deaf husband and between us we had cows and goats,” said Halima Korone Une, a Somalia’s refugee in Dabaab, Kenya. “Because of the drought we had to eat all our goats and my husband went to look for pasture for the cows but never came back so I decided to leave my home with our five children.”
That is the reality. Korone lost one of her children on their way and now she has only four children with her.
Meanwhile, the Pope is giving blessings far from the devastating situation, in his summer residence in Rome. While The United Nations has declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia and stated that the effects of the drought have been felt more widely across the war-torn country, as well as in parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, Pope Benedict XVI says: “It is an immense task. In this time of holiday, let us not forget to open our hands and our hearts to come to the aid of those who need it,” and he added: “Let us give food and share our bread with the needy.”
The Vatican’s official daily keeps saying that it is difficult to save the people of Somalia. Furthermore, their official daily will refer to the international community for the hard job. Sources in the Vatican also believe the international community should take a more active mediation role between rival and Somali clans:
“If international players do not manage to do this, then even a massive humanitarian effort by UN agencies, including the WFP’s airlift, and by non-governmental organisations will at best slow the emergency,” the Vatican’s official daily said.
Last week, the UN World Food Programme has started an airlift of food into the capital Mogadishu. Even though they are taking any possible action, WFP said: “our feeding centers continue to operate in spite of the difficult security situation.”
Despite the Vatican’s official daily opinion, charities have already said that more international donations are needed and relief efforts have been hampered by the combat, and also a ban on some humanitarian agencies by the Islamist group “Al Shabab” which controls much of southern Somalia.
The African Union is scheduling a further donor conference in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia’s capital during this month. The Pope claims a lack of “solid institutions” on the country, but the world is interested in knowing when a solid institution as the Vatican is going to start helping the people in Somalia.