News / Africa

Somalia Urges Humanitarian Groups to Expedite Aid to Refugees

Somalis displaced by drought wait outside their makeshift shelters where tens of thousands have arrived in recent months desperately seeking food, water, shelter and other assistance, in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 25, 2011
Somalis displaced by drought wait outside their makeshift shelters where tens of thousands have arrived in recent months desperately seeking food, water, shelter and other assistance, in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 25, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
  • Clottey interview with Omar Osman, spokesman for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG)

Peter Clottey

Omar Osman, a spokesman for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), described his visit Wednesday with Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to three refugee camps in the capital Mogadishu.

“The conditions Mohamed Ali saw were appalling,” said Osman, “and he could not believe that some of the U.N. agencies had not reached those camps.  At one of the camps we went to, we were informed that a child had died, just minutes before we visited.”

Relief workers say the Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in six decades.  The U.N. and the U.S. Agency for International Development says more than 11 million people are in need of food aid.  Last week, the UN declared that famine has struck two regions in southern Somalia, which is under the control of the Islamic militant group, al-Shabab.

At the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, families fleeing the famine in Somalia are given aid, but also face new challenges. VOA's Michael Onyiego visited the camp and took these pictures.

Osman said the TFG will continue its efforts to combat the effects of the drought despite inadequate resources.

“As you are aware, the government has tried to do its best with its meager resources... We have seen a real famine.  We have seen children close to dying even though the international community has politically pledged support to the Somali people to stop this hunger,” said Osman.

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

He said agencies have been slow to provide famine relief.

“We urge the international community to speed up the process,” said Osman. “The situation cannot wait the normal procedure to take place. The situation is very urgent and dangerous.”

He said the prime minister has set up a committee to coordinate and assist international aid groups with their relief efforts.  Osman praised ordinary Somalis for helping their fellow countrymen affected by the famine.

“We have seen a lot of effort from the Somali people. Civil society groups and local NGOs [non-governmental organizations] together with the government and the local administration… have done a lot, and they have re-settled some of these new arrivals to a new camp,” said Osman.

He adds the TFG will continue its coordination with international aid groups to send “much-needed” help to refugees living in areas outside the government’s control, despite threats by hard-line insurgent group, al-Shabab.

The United Nations says "massive" action is needed to save millions of people living in the Horn of Africa from starvation.

Meanwhile, a donors' conference was reportedly scheduled for Wednesday in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.  The U.N. is seeking pledges of $1.6 billion to help the millions of malnourished people - many of them children.

You May Like

Ukraine President Appeals for More US Support

Speaking before Congress ahead of meeting with President Obama, Petro Poroshenko urges lawmakers to back Ukraine in its quest for freedom and democracy More

Photogallery Global Audience Watches as Scots Go to the Polls

People were almost equally divided over a vote for independence, watched closely by Britain's allies, investors and restive regions at home and abroad More

China to Invest $20B in India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high-profile visit 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid