News / Africa

Aid Group Appeals for Drought Aid to Somalia

Internally displaced Somali children line up with containers in hand to receive food aid at a food distribution center, in Mogadishu, Somalia, (File Photo - March 15, 2011)
Internally displaced Somali children line up with containers in hand to receive food aid at a food distribution center, in Mogadishu, Somalia, (File Photo - March 15, 2011)
Michael Onyiego

The humanitarian group Oxfam says the intensifying drought in Somalia has claimed more than 500 lives and is likely to claim many more. 

Hundreds are dead from drought-related disease as Somalia and parts of Kenya and Ethiopia brace for a humanitarian disaster. British-based relief group Oxfam says at least 500 people, including more than 80 children, have died from diseases such as diarrhea since the beginning of the year.

Two seasons of failed rains throughout east Africa have pushed up to 10-million people - including one in three Somalis - toward starvation. Throughout the region, the drought has killed countless crops and hundreds of thousands of livestock, forcing people off their land and into the arid regions of Somalia and Kenya in search of food.

Oxfam spokesperson Alun McDonald says the suffering currently being witnessed may be just the beginning of an even larger crisis.

“It is definitely a big concern that it is going to get worse," said McDonald. "We have just had 12 very, very dry months.  We have got at least another three or four dry months before the next rainy season in most of the areas and even that is not guaranteed to come. There is definitely a chance that, over the next few months, we will see much larger-scale loss of life.”

While the food crisis in Somalia has not been designated a famine, many - including the United Nations - believe the situation has reached “pre-famine conditions.”  Parts of northern Kenya have received as little as one-quarter of the average yearly rainfall, and analysts say the past year’s rainfall has been the lowest recorded since 1950 and 1951.

The crisis is receiving comparisons to the Somali famine of 1991 and 1992.

“The levels of malnutrition that we are seeing from refugees coming out of Somalia are some of the worst that we have seen since the early 1990s," added McDonald. "People are coming out with malnutrition four or five times the level that is normally considered to be an emergency.”

The 1991-1992 famine claimed more than 300,000 lives before the international community decided to intervene and deliver food. Aid originally sent to alleviate the crisis was being commandeered by Somalia’s warlords to help fuel the country’s civil war. 

The ongoing war between Somalia's U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government and Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab is interfering with aid delivery. The group controls much of southern and central Somalia and has, for the past year, cut off humanitarian access to regions under its control, forcing many to flee.  

Equally worrying are the conditions facing refugees pouring into Mogadishu, Kenya and Ethiopia in search of food.  While feeding stations have been set up in the Somali capital, the thousands arriving every week have all but overwhelmed the centers. In Kenya, the situation is worse.

According to aid group Save the Children, as many 1,300 Somalis are crossing the Kenyan border each day to seek refuge in the camps at Dadaab. Originally designed to hold around 90,000 people, Dadaab’s three camps are now home to over 360,000, with more coming every day. The new arrivals must battle not only acute malnutrition, but squalid conditions and the threat of disease.

An extension of the facilities at Dadaab has been approved, but delayed for the past year by the Kenyan government. Oxfam's McDonald called for the Kenyan government to allow the camp’s desperately needed expansion. He also criticized the international community for not maintaining the facilities in Dadaab as the population began to mushroom years ago.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid