London – Somalia is in the midst of a devastating drought and is in need of urgent food aid to stop hunger-related deaths.
In a desperate call for action to help raise funds for Somalia hit by ongoing conflict, drought, high food prices, and starvation, the UN has warned that “catastrophic hunger levels in Somalia have left more than 513,000 children at risk of dying and 173,000 more than during the 2011 famine.”
The people of Somalia, especially in Baidoa and Burhakaba, are defenceless against the crisis and it is clear that if aid is not scaled up then the worst is to come.
In these areas Save the Children reported that: “As drought continues to devastate large swathes of the country, the number of children dying from malnutrition is also skyrocketing.”
Conflict is one of the major drivers of hunger in Somalia.
Because of long-running conflict and militias, the government has been unable to gain control.
In addition, the violence and armed confrontation have caused many civilians to be displaced and tensions have escalated day after day, which is exposing Somalians to serious human rights abuses.
However, the top concern is food insecurity.
Following the previous seasons of no rainfall, the pandemic and war in Ukraine as well as disruption to food and fuel, famine has already begun in Baidoa and Burhakaba.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has declared that there are more areas that will be impacted between October and December 2022.
The humanitarian situation is extremely alarming.
Ali Abdi, a Somalian journalist and writer on the ground, describes the situation.
“From the perspective of journalists on the ground, we can see the situation in Somalia is getting worse because of the displacement of people to the main cities who are looking for shelter, food and water,” said Abdi.
“The UN has said the situation is ‘very worrying’. We are seeing people dying. Among those suffering from the drought and with no crops growing was a family of 10.
“The father and seven children have died and only the mother and her infant are still alive. More needs to be done. They need help urgently.”
There isn’t any form of transport from rural areas to get to towns and cities.
Many people have to walk very long distances to make it to camps from villages into cities, where they hope to find food and water.
During the trek, women are at risk of gender-based violence along the way.
The long walk has seen some people arrive at the camps in a poor state of health.
Weak and exhausted, some have failed to recover from the effects of the arduous journey resulting in death.
There are organisations working on the ground, but this is just not enough. More aid is urgently needed to avoid a catastrophe.
Will it be possible to prevent famine from spreading to different areas?
Without an immense scaling-up of humanitarian aid, money, assistance from stakeholders and support from the international community, the situation can only get worse.
Successive failed rains have destroyed people’s crops and killed their livestock “on which their survival depends”, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu recently said.
Estimates are the over 20 million people across Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya – about half of them children – are facing starvation.
Meanwhile, the war in Somalia’s central Hiran region, where the country’s army and allied forces have launched an offensive against al-Shabab fighters is exacerbating the already dire situation.