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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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