News / Africa

Famine Spreads to New Region in Somalia

Internally displaced Somali people stand in line as they wait for cooked food in Hodan district, south of capital, Mogadishu, September 5, 2011.
Internally displaced Somali people stand in line as they wait for cooked food in Hodan district, south of capital, Mogadishu, September 5, 2011.
Gabe Joselow

The United Nations says more than half of Somalia's population, four million people, is now in crisis as famine spreads, and 750,000 are at risk of death.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Somalia reported Monday that famine has extended to Bay, a major food-producing region, and is expected to continue spreading unless aid is increased. The agency says tens of thousands of people have died and hundreds are dying each day, at least half of them children.

The agency’s Somalia coordinator Mark Bowden says much more assistance is needed. “The next four months will be critical in which we have to stabilize the situation,” he said. “The message has been coming across consistently: this is not a short-term crisis.”

The U.N. has appealed for $1.1-billion to respond to the crisis and has raised about 60 percent of that amount, and Bowden says U.N. workers have been able to scale up activities in recent weeks as donors responded to earlier declarations of famine.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization stepped in with cash and seed programs to help keep farmers on their land, but program director Luca Alinovi says it is difficult to secure funding for longer-term programs.

“Mainly we receive money in response to the humanitarian crisis,” said Alinovi. “It is very difficult to get money for a longer-term initiative because most of the donors … want to have a functioning government.”

Logistical challenges

Somalia presents numerous logistical challenges to aid agencies, not the least of which is that the country has not had a functioning central government for the past 20 years.

The al-Qaida linked militant group al-Shabab continues to hold influence in parts of the country, threatening the security of aid workers.  The U.N. says it is in discussions with the militant group to get access to some of those areas.

Global response

The African Union said last month at a donors conference that it has raised more than $350 million in cash for drought and famine relief.  The AU has been criticized for its slow response to the crisis, which has forced hundreds of thousands of Somalis to flee their homes in search of food and water. Before the conference, the 54-member bloc had pledged only $500,000 in aid.

The United States has pledged more than $500 million in food and refugee assistance.  The European Union and its member countries have pledged more than $750 million, while the Organization of the Islamic Conference has pledged $350 million.

With the current humanitarian response level, the U.N. estimates most of southern Somalia will be in famine by the end of the year.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid