News / Africa

Rainy Season May Not Bring Relief to Horn of Africa

An internally displaced Somali woman holds her malnourished child inside their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 20, 2011.
An internally displaced Somali woman holds her malnourished child inside their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 20, 2011.

While meteorologists expect above-average rains in drought-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa this season, this might not be such good news for displaced people.  Aid agencies say the rainy season could spread disease and cause a spike in death rates among vulnerable populations.  

The World Meteorological Organization has said normal to above-average rainfall is expected in the areas of southern Somalia and Kenya that have been suffering from the worst drought in 60 years.

The news is a welcome relief for farmers who lost crops and livestock after the complete failure of the last two rainy seasons.

But, aid agencies are concerned that the rains will initially bring more suffering for populations displaced and weakened by drought and famine.

Astrid Sehl is a political advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council, which works in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya.

"We are extremely concerned for the first days and weeks into the next rain season because we know that the risk for disease spreading will increase, we know that children now who are severely malnourished will be very vulnerable to diseases like cholera, for instance, and diarrhea and we are afraid that many more children will die when the rain comes," said Sehl.

The United Nations estimates that nearly one-third of all Somalis, nearly 2.5 million people, have been displaced from their homes, a large portion of them this year.

Many of those who relocated within Somalia are lacking even the most basic shelter.  Outbreaks of cholera and measles have already been reported in makeshift camps.

Andy Needham, a Nairobi-based spokesperson for the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, says this is a dangerous situation, as aid workers learned from the last famine nearly 20 years ago.

"What our colleagues are telling us is that they were caught unprepared back in '92, and that when the rains came they had a very significant adverse affect on the state of the camps in terms of the shelter and also it had a knock-on effect in terms of the increased levels of hypothermia and increased levels of infant mortality, especially among the under-five," said Needham.

UNHCR is stepping up efforts to provide emergency assistance to internally displaced people in Somalia.  Needham says the agency has already reached about 200,000 people with packages that include plastic sheeting, blankets, basic cooking equipment and soap.

There are also major concerns at the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, which are hosting over 450,000 refugees, including 160,000 Somalis who fled there this year

Hassan Bashir, who lives at the Hagadera camp in Dadaab, says rains cause widespread problems every year.

"We'll see a lot of floods affecting the blocks and also the food distributions, especially Ifo, because it has soft ground, whereby the floods go through to the stores where WFP and CARE, they keep food for the refugees.  Also houses will also break because of the heavy floods and also because of the heavy weather, these are the conditions which will arise," he said.

Bashir says even the solid homes that some refugees live in, which are made of mud brick, have been known to collapse in heavy rain, sometimes killing the residents inside.

Conditions are even worse for the thousands of refugees living on the outskirts of the camps in shelters made of sticks.

The rains are expected to start in the coming weeks.  But U.N. experts say it will take at least two successful cycles of rain, planting and harvests before the Horn can fully recover from the drought.

That means the region may not see true relief from the food crisis until at least August of next year.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid