News / Africa

UN: Militants Forcing Somali Migration Along With Famine

An internally displaced Somali family stand in the rain outside their makeshift shelter in the south of Mogadishu's Hodan district, August 2, 2011
An internally displaced Somali family stand in the rain outside their makeshift shelter in the south of Mogadishu's Hodan district, August 2, 2011

Multimedia

Mariama Diallo

Drought and famine are forcing tens of thousands of Somalis to abandon their homes and seek assistance in the capital, Mogadishu, or neighboring countries. The U.N. World Food Program and other agencies say, however, the ongoing conflict in Somalia and actions by the militant group al-Shabab also are to blame for the growing migration.

Aid workers at the Hagadera reception center in Kenya say the number of refugees has increased dramatically since June. Alex Sekai is an emergency response officer.

"We used to receive like 300 to 400, but now it's beyond 1,200, 1,300. The number is shooting [up] every day and we are expecting more," he said.

The lack of food and water in many parts of Somalia is certainly the main reason so many Somalis are fleeing their homes. But Vincent Cochetel, the regional director for the United Nations refugee agency, said fighting and oppression also are causing people to head for the camps.

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

“When you talk to people in Kenya and Ethiopia, you give them two minutes and ask why they left, they say because of the famine, but you give them 30 minutes, they’ll tell you horror stories about the sort of repression they were confronted with by al-Shabab and other groups,” said Cochetel.

He gave a list of testimonies, including this one.

“20 IDP families from Cochin basketball stadium in the Balad region; all the families were evicted from the basketball stadium after they were told to pay the rent by al-Shabab. They couldn’t afford it. They were expelled from that stadium and they decided to move on,” said Cochetel.

Allan Jury is with the World Food Program. He said the situation is worsening and pleads for better access inside the Horn of Africa nation.

“Right now you have humanitarian emergency across all the areas in the South. You have famine declared in two particular areas, but very honestly, the assessment is, unless there is a rapid assistance and opening up of the country, that anytime over the next one to two months, virtually all of southern Somalia would’ve met the criteria for famine,” said Jury.

But he cautioned against blaming a specific organization.

"[You need] creative ways to deal with local authorities and some of those creative capacities for local dialogue is not necessarily well served by naming a lot [of] names and screaming from top of the podium in the press and media. It can be counterproductive," he said.

The international agency Oxfam says the international community is failing to keep pace with a crisis that is spiraling out of control. Semhar Araia is the group's Horn of Africa regional policy advisor.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things. We’ve got poverty, lack of access to food, children who grew up in wars, a country without a functioning government that’s facing a series of problems regionally. And we have an international community that has been trying to deal with Somalia but has not been adequate enough.”  

The United Nations has said 3.7 million Somalis are in need of emergency assistance. It estimates that number of people could rise by 25 percent if urgent action on all fronts is not taken.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
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 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 Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
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.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid