News / Africa

Mogadishu Mayor Says Aid Not Reaching Famine Victims

Gabe Joselow

More than 300,000 Somalis have fled to the capital Mogadishu in the past few months to escape famine and conflict in other parts of the country.  The city, which lies in rubble from years of conflict, already has enough challenges.

Mogadishu Mayor Mohammed Ahmed Noor has his hands full.  Just a year into office, Noor is witnessing a massive influx of internally displaced people who are overwhelming his city's meager infrastructure.

Noor says there are hundreds of camps already.  One of the largest is called Badbaado, a name that means "rescue."

"I believe even that camp there are 4,927 families, multiply it by seven, because average  family of Somalis consist of 7.  If you multiply, that's 35,000 almost - 35,000 individuals in one camp.  How can you sustain in a month without any help?  We cannot sustain, we cannot continue, I'm telling you, we cannot continue. And I think there will be a time when we collapse and say that's it," said Noor.

The refugees come from the Bay and Bakool regions, and other parts of southern Somalia that have fallen into famine.

Definition of Famine:

The word famine is a term that is not used lightly by humanitarian organizations. The United Nations describes a crisis as a famine only when the following conditions are met:

  • Malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent
  • More than two people per 10,000 people are dying each day
  • Severe lack of food access for large population

Current Famine:

    Almost half of Somalia's population, 3.7 million people, are affected by the current crisis with malnutrition rates in southern Somalia the highest in the world, surpassing 50 per cent in some areas. The United Nations says it is likely that tens of thousands have already have died, the majority of those being children.

    The drought that has led to the current famine in parts of Somalia has also affected people in Kenya and Ethiopia.

    Previous Famines in the Horn of Africa:

  • Somalia 1991-1992
  • Ethiopia 1984-1985
  • Ethiopia 1974

Many arrive hungry, weak and sick after the long journey. Residents at the camp say they receive very little assistance, except for some food provided by the local community.

Noor complains that food provided by aid agencies is sitting in warehouses and not being distributed to the people.  But he's reluctant to try to distribute it himself.

"I cannot do it, because if a U.N. Agency - for example, if I say, ok, I will use authority and I will order that all the food should be shipped to the people, then there would be a criticism and they will say he looted," Noor added.  "That's what they would say.  They will not say he distributed the food to the people, they will say the mayor looted the food and I don't want that to happen."

Catherine Bragg, assistant U.N. secretary-general and deputy emergency relief coordinator spoke to the Security Council on Wednesday and said that humanitarian operations in Mogadishu were complex and increased aid distribution was not something that could be done quickly.  

Aside from the food crisis, one of the biggest challenges facing Mogadishu has been an insurgency by the al-Qaida linked militant group al-Shabab.

The militants had controlled large parts of Mogadishu for years, until the group announced its withdraw from the city last week.

The Bakara market in Mogadishu use to be a bustling center of commerce in the Somali capital. But that was before the al-Shabab militants moved into the area. Gabe Joselow filed this report from the scene.

Mayor Noor now has his city back and says this marks the beginning of the end of al-Shabab.

"[The] Shabab ideology is dead," added Noor.  "Nobody will buy that idea.  It was based on oppression, it was based on blood, it was based on displacement, it was based on darkness, it was based on hunger and poverty.  [The] Somali people rejected that.  They cannot survive in Somalia anymore."

Even with al-Shabab gone, Mogadishu, a city without basic services, like clean water or a fire department, is a long way from being stable.  And Mayor Noor, whose nickname is Tarzan, will have to face the challenges that lie ahead.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More