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

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