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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More