The medical aid group
Doctors Without Borders describes the humanitarian crisis in Somalia as
catastrophic. And it says conditions in the country are getting worse, as
international assistance plummets due to insecurity and the targeting of aid
Nicolas de Torrente, executive director of
Doctors Without Borders-USA, says, "Every time that we think it can't get much
worse, it does. And at this point, we feel that we've reached really a new low
and that we're no longer on the verge of a catastrophe, but the disaster is
really happening now. We've seen an increasingly deteriorating situation,
particularly over the last 18 months, which is really a turning point."
was then, he says, that there was an "internationalization" of the conflict,
with other countries getting more involved politically and militarily. "That
has led to an escalation and intensification of the conflict," he says, "with
violence perpetrated against civilians by all sides involved. You can only
conclude that the situation really has become catastrophic for the Somali
Children are very much affected by the conflict,
especially children who've left Mogadishu and are living in the Afgooye area.
Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Somalia for Doctors Without
Borders, says many are being treated for malnutrition.
numbers are quite frightening. We've got nearly 3,000 children in the nutrition
program at the moment in the Afgooye corridor. And those numbers don't appear
overnight. We're seeing 500 new admissions every week," he says.
Dr. Elder says Somali families face difficult
choices as a result of food shortages.
sell everything that they have to try to buy extra food. Then they drop out the
expensive food items, that are usually the most nutritious. Finally, they start
to ration what they do have. They go from three meals a day to one meal a day
and then one meal every two days. And finally they're in the very difficult
situation of having to decide which members of the family are expendable," he
says Somalis are trapped in a corridor of internally displaced persons between
Mogadishu and Afgooye, which he calls a "corridor of misery, where they have a
very, very poor access to food. Where they have poor access to water. "
says water must be trucked in on a daily basis to help over 300,000 people in
the region survive. Poor sanitation and shelter only make matters worse,
including medical conditions.
are seeing cholera. We will see respiratory tract infections in the coming months.
And the mortality rate will be catastrophic for that population," he says.
number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) continues to grow due to
insecurity in Mogadishu. Many civilians are being treated for gunshot wounds or
injuries caused by bombs. Elder describes it as "a disproportionate number of
civilians caught in the crossfire."
It's estimated 700,000 people fled
Mogadishu in 2007, and at least another 30,000 this year.