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Famine Rips Life Out of Somalia as International Aid Falls Short

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By Ivana Kvesic, Christian Post Reporter
August 12, 2011|9:52 am

Somalia, and the entire Horn of Africa, is facing the most devastating drought the region has witnessed in 60 years. With soaring food prices and a lack of money, tens of thousands of Somalis are fleeing their homes, living on the brink of starvation, and dying of hunger and disease.

An estimated 600,000 children are on the brink of starvation, while the total number of Somalis at risk for starvation is at an astounding 3.7 million.

The main at risk Somalis live in the southern tip of the country where Al-Shabaab controls a majority of the country's territory.

Somali businesses are ailing, livestock is starving to death, and Somali grown food is becoming virtually unavailable.

Food in Somalia is being imported from other countries; however, prices are soaring at astounding levels because of the failing harvests across the region but also because food imported into the south faces the added “taxes” of Al-Shabaab.

The result of the multifaceted crisis is that an estimated over-1,000 Somalis are fleeing their country a day in search for food and shelter.

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However, refuge does not come easy in a drought and famine gripped region.

Somalis in search of refuge face miles upon miles of semi-arid dry land that they must trek across when they are already malnourished and weak.

Many family members loose loved ones along the journey to neighboring countries and their safety is not always guaranteed once they cross the border or even once they arrive in refugee camps.

Kenya is host to the largest refugee camp in the world and Somalis crossing through the border are facing challenges by criminals and gang members waiting in the bushes to kill, rape, and loot the vulnerable refugees.

Kenyan police authorities are arguing that with the magnitude of the crisis they are simply unable to absorb the massive influx of people and protect them.

Once refugees make it into the relative safety of camps and receive food aid, they are often not given the fuel and firewood necessary to make their food. Thus, they are once again subjected to the dangers of leaving the camp and facing the villains that are waiting for them.

Most international aid agencies have primarily focused on emergency aid in terms of food and shelter, however the Food and Agriculture Association is taking a more sustainable approach by calling for $70 million of aid to help Somalis buy food, feed their animals, and stay in their own country.

Overall, international aid agencies across the gamete are struggling to garner the much needed funding to aid victims of east Africa’s cataclysmic famine as the desperately needed aid these agencies are seeking is either not fiscally available or is simply not reaching people in time.

The UN is saying that the world community has committed $1.1 billion in aid so far but that $1.3 billion more is needed to help the people in need across the region.

Thus far, the U.S. has been the largest country donor to aid in the region and is pushing for aid that will result in the avoidance of future hunger crises.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Washington on Thursday on the famine and stated, "Every few decades the cycle repeats. And it would be easy to throw our hands up and blame it all on forces beyond our control. But this cycle is not inevitable."

As the UN and aid agencies are now desperately scrambling for funds, critics across the board are arguing that the international community knew far in advance that a drought was heading towards the region and knew what the outcome in Somalia would be, yet failed to adequately prepare funds and resources to combat the crisis when stalling it was still a conceivable reality.

Clinton is one of them. She argued on Thursday that the world has the resources and tools to make hunger a memory if the political will was available to do so.

Another such critic is Somali-born supermodel Iman. She has come out and condemned the lack of preparation and action on the crisis by the international community arguing that mechanisms had been put in place to deal with the potentiality of another catastrophic famine following the substantially less severe famine Somalia experienced in 1992.

She told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “What I want people to understand that this is a catastrophe that was preventable but it is not salvageable.”

 

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