Famine in Somalia: A catastrophe whose victims humanity can save

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)


Khartoum (Sudanow)– The southern part of Somalia is expected to lose its entire population due to death by the severe famine which is hitting the central region of the country, said a report by the Islamic Da’wa Organization (IDO).

The report was presented by Oqail Al-Fadny, the IDO Director of Foreign Missions to a meeting called for by the organization, the voluntary organizations and the Sudanese civil society organizations to plan for a popular campaign involving all the Sudanese people to provide relief supplies for the Somali people.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa region has started to be deteriorated since early March 2011 due to drought which hit the country because of scarcity of rain in the past two years and which caused thousands of people to displace to the capital Mogadishu and its outskirts after the death of their cattle upon which they depend in their living.

Persisting aggravation of conflict:

The conditions in Somalia are aggravating day after day where the number of the people affected by the famine is expected to jump to about 2,9 million, 20 to 30 of them die every day according to the IDO’s last field report as the organization is implementing an emergency relief program to assist the famine-affected population in Somalia.

The UN has earlier estimated that the number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance would sharply increase to about 3.7 million people, nearly half of the country’s population.

The UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, for his part, estimated that the total humanitarian needs to respond to this crisis to be around 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, of which only one half is funded now.

The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, on Tuesday declared two areas in Somalia as humanitarian disaster zones due to famine and drought and accused the international organizations of non-responding to this critical humanitarian situation there.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, triggered by several combined factors including drought, conflict and high food prices, is set to worsen unless concrete actions are taken, especially in two regions of southern Somalia suffering from famine.

In this respect FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf was reported to have said that “all this has created a catastrophic situation that urgently requires massive international support,"

"If we want to avoid future famine and food insecurity crises in the region, countries and the international community urgently need to bolster the agricultural sector and accelerate investments in rural development," he said.

According to the statistics received from Somalia by the IDO office in Khartoum, one child in ten

children die every day because of hunger and each child in three children is infected by malnutrition, a situation which is three times worse than it used to be four months ago, particularly at Bay, Shabelle and Juba regions.

From inside the Somali lands, Head of the IDO mission for Northeastern Africa Dr. Abdul-Ghader Mussa said that the number of families which lost their children due to famine during last June and early current July amounted to 4000, most of them displaced from Shbilly and Banadir regions.

He said many families have experienced tragic situations where some have left their relatives to die after those relatives could not walk for long distances, adding that many children died due to fatigue and walking for long nights and months in search for food and water where some children used to eat remnants of dead animals.

He directed an urgent humanitarian appeal to the international community, saying “Somalia is calling for you for help today before tomorrow and before it is too late. Nobody can imagine what is happening in Somalia. Humanity can contribute to overcoming this disaster and prevent the Somali children against death by famine”.

He added that the situation was out of the control of social organizations which has failed in the past period to provide urgent assistance to avoid this disaster.

Weak Arab and Islamic presence:

Despite the bad conditions there, yet the number of the Muslim organizations operating in Somalia, mostly in Mogadishu and its outskirts, are only 18 civil organizations, including ten international ones which are the IDO, the Islamic Cooperation Organization, the Qatari Red Crescent, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Red Crescent, the Direct Aid Society, the International Forum for Islamic Youth, the World Relief Organization, the Islamic Aid Society, and the Islamic Relief Organization besides 8 local organizations.

To fill in this absence, the IDO on Thursday formed a higher committee for reliving the Somali people, chaired by the IDO Secretary General and membership of voluntary organizations operating in Sudan to support the famine-affected population in the Horn of Africa region.

The IDO met with these organizations where Omer Al-Jaz, from the Islamic Corporation, said the meeting tended to attract the organization to determine the means of contributing to lessening the disastrous humanitarian situation in Somalia.

He further expected that the disaster would spread to cover Mozambique, Zambia, Kenya and

Uganda, pointing out that the humanitarian situation in Somalia necessitated unification of the efforts and mobilization of the popular support starting from Sudan and all other Arab and Islamic countries.

Flagrant Western Absence:

The presence of foreign organizations in Somalia is very weak or almost completely zero where these organizations justified their absence by saying that the security condition in Somalia was unsafe, the reason why some of them operate in the refugees’ camps in Kenya.

Some Western officials have already accused the UN Agencies and some Western organizations of intentionally neglecting the critical humanitarian condition in Somalia under the pretext of insecurity.

 In Nairobi, news agencies reported Johan Van Der Kamp, Regional Coordinator of the German Organization for Hunger Control, to have said that the internal dispute in Somalia removed any hope in bringing the situation back to normal in the country within a short period, pointing out that the relief supplies are usually delivered under protection of armed teams due to seriousness of the situations.

He further said the refugees arriving to the Kenyan Dadaab camp obtained only a small biscuit bag per day since their names are not registered, adding that the matter could continue for many weeks, which prompted concern.

He said his organization was currently working with other relief organizations to find a way to provide the basic needs for the new refugees arriving in the camps.

In the meantime, the UN Chief, as if placing the burden on the Arabs and Muslims, urged in a statement Tuesday called on the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The UN ON Wednesday, and for the first time, steered an air bridge to deliver food and medical assistance for the people affected by the drought and famine in Somalia and other areas in the Horn of Africa region where it is feared that a humanitarian crisis may arise and kill millions of people in two months’ time.

The WFP said a plane carrying 10 tons of assistance has taken off from the Kenyan capital Nairobi to the Somali capital Mogadishu where there are about 100000 Somalis who displaced from the southern part of the country fleeing the drought and famine, adding that the first batch of the assistance consisted of urgent support for thousands of children.

Additionally, the meeting, called for the FAO last Tuesday, which brought together senior UN officials and representatives of the UN agencies and other international organizations, has failed to provide an urgent humanitarian assistance for the affected people who are suffering from malnutrition and famine in Somalia, and issued, instead, a statement saying the international community has mobilized its

support for the affected people through an urgent program to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

Most recent statistics: -

The IDO has provided the following statistics on the grave humanitarian conditions in Somalia:

  • The number of people affected by the famine registered 2,850,000

  • The above figure is expected to jump to 3 million by mid August

  • The number of families displaced to the capital Mogadishu and its outskirts amounted to 62000 families

  • The number of children infected with malnutrition is 500000 child

  • The number of refugees in neighboring countries- Ethiopia and Kenya- is 122000 refugees

  • The number of people who die every day is estimated at 20 to 30 people

  • The number of the newly established camps in Mogadishu and its outskirts amounted to 121 during June and July.

  • The worst affected regions by the famine are Bay, Badwa, Bakool, lower Shabelle and, lower Juba and upper Juba

  • The distributed aid is flour, rice, cooking oil and sugar enough for a family to survice for 15 to 20 days.

  • End



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