Monday, April 11, 2022

Somalia - The worst is yet to come

 Somalia faces its worst drought in a decade, children are bearing the brunt. Parents are struggling to feed them, with nearly half of the country's under-five population likely to suffer from acute malnutrition by June.

"If nothing is done, it is projected that by the summer of this year, 350,000 of the 1.4 million severely malnourished children in the country, will perish," warns Adam Abdelmoula from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

The hunger crisis is also being overshadowed by the Russia-Ukraine war, as aid is being directed to there. Humanitarian agencies say there is a huge funding crisis. They have just 3% of what is needed to intervene in the country.

 The drought has affected 4.5 million people. The Juba River, the largest in Somalia, has barely any water left.  700,000 people have been forced from their homes in search of food and water for them and their animals, and the numbers keep rising. There have been four seasons of failed rains and temperatures are unbearably high - 90% of the country is dry. Carcasses of animals are strewn all over - dead goats, donkeys and camels. This is catastrophic for the many Somalis who earn their living by raising and selling animals. The prices for food and water are surging. Villages have been deserted as people move nearer to the urban centres in search of relief.

70% of school-age children are not attending school. Some girls are being married off early because their families cannot feed them.

Fatuma Mohamed, a nurse at Luuq's malnutrition centre, says "Our worry is the big numbers that we are getting. We are overloaded and operating beyond our full capacity. We have been running short of medical supplies," she says.

The drought is affecting not only Somalia, but the rest of the Horn of Africa and many other parts of the continent. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) says at least a quarter of all Africans are facing a food security crisis. There is also a dramatic rise in the numbers of displaced people. The camps for internally displaced persons are scattered all over the country. And new ones keep springing up. The drought has forced families apart - the men have gone to the towns to earn a living, while the women and children move where they can get aid.

Somalia drought: 'Act now or 350,000 children will die' - BBC News

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