Drought-hit Somalia : People are dying. The world must act

The UN chief has urged international support to alleviate Somalia’s worsening hunger crisis during an emergency visit to the country. Antonio Guterres issued the appeal on Tuesday after witnessing the suffering of malnourished Somalis and cholera victims during his first field trip since becoming the UN chief. He said the hunger crisis requires a massive response as six million people, or almost half of the population of the Horn of Africa country, need assistance. “Every single person we have seen is a personal story of tremendous suffering. There is no way to describe it,” Guterres said after seeing skeletal men, women and children in a cholera ward in Baidoa, 243km northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.



Fighting to survive hunger in Somalia

 A week after his inauguration, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared a state of disaster in his drought-stricken country of Somalia, where the lives of 6.2 million people are now at risk. Even as the ongoing war against al-Shabab continues and African Union forces (AMISOM) fight to assist the fragile government, the looming famine has become a priority. The drought will be a trial for all those involved in Somalia’s struggles. It will test the international community’s response, the government’s ability to assist, and the strength of security provided by the African Union forces.
In the far north of Somalia, three years with little rain has had increasingly disastrous effects for a population reliant on the land. The parched earth has failed to produce food for the camels and goats that the people depend on for their income, meat, and milk for their children. Local leaders in Puntland estimate the pastoralists have already lost 65 percent of their animals. While the men accompany the remaining livestock in the hunt for grazing land, the women and children are migrating towards towns on main roads in search of alternative sources of food. Displaced people have been setting up tents along the roads in hope of receiving aid from passing vehicles. It’s there the women, children, and elderly wait for assistance in the heat and dust. In the coming months, if the word famine is used to describe the crisis in Somalia, it will mean that help never came.

Drought in Somalia : Time is Running Out

Four-year-old Safia Adan lies in Baidoa Regional Hospital in southern Somalia with a tube through her nose. She is suffering from severe malnutrition and dehydration. At her side her worried grandmother looks up to explain that Safia first became sick after drinking water from the local well. “The water had changed colour but we still drank it,” says her grandmother. “We stopped after Safia became sick. We brought her to the city because we knew you get could get good treatment here.” They were lucky – seven people from their village are now confirmed dead and the hospital has seen a surge in children suffering from water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. They are the latest victims of the on-going drought ravaging Somalia that has left more than six million people, half the country’s population, facing food shortages and has seen water supplies become infected with bacteria rendering them undrinkable. 
Last week the United Nations warned that a severe famine in Somalia was a distinct possibility and noted that if the rains failed again and urgent international action was not taken the country could see a repeat of the famine of 2011, which killed more than a quarter of a million people. “In the worst affected areas inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock,” the UN said in a statement released last week. “Communities are being forced to sell their assets and borrow food and money to survive.” Aid agencies are particularly concerned that the drought is exacerbating the country’s on-going humanitarian crisis – 365,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished and 71,000 of those children are in need of urgent life-saving assistance. “This time last year we had far fewer cases but due to the drought people will use any kind of water,” says Dr Abdullah Yusuf, medical coordinator for the Baidoa Regional Hospital.

 Karel Prinsloo









Foreign intervention in Mali

English: Bareina, a small desert village in th...
According to the current news, French forces have entered Mali to assist Mali government against rebel forces who are advancing towards the capital. Now French aircrafts are targeting possible rebel targets outside the capital. War has intensified and people are migrating to neighboring Mauritania for safety and shelter. Mali is a poor country and due to escalating war people are finding it hard to provide daily necessities to their families. Every war brings casualties; the French lost its first combat soldier after the start of the war. A French secret agent also lost his life in Somalia after a failed rescue operation conducted by French especial forces in Somalia.
Although the French president has assured that his forces would complete combat mission within a weeks but ground realities are different. Reality is that recent experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars proved that instead of solving problems and bring stability, foreign intervention makes things worse in these countries. Air strikes have killed innocent people and foreign intervention provides more opportunity to rebel forces to use for their propaganda purpose and hire more recruits to carry out their agenda.
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20m in West Africa at risk of food crisis

English: The Martin, a ship unloads pallets of...
THE World Food Programme has warned that 20 million people across West Africa are still at risk of a food crisis.
Things can be worse between August and December. Dried weather, lack of rains, poor harvests, lack of food and increased food prices are worsening the situation for poor people.
The Sahel region of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are most affected. Drought is still considered worst in the last 60 years owing to lack of rains and water and people have lost everything and now migrating to other countries.
Somalia and Kenya are also worst affected by recent drought and things are going from bad to worse every day. Already 0.4 million people have migrated from Somalia to Kenya and are now living in camps without any necessities of lives.
Owing to the worst peace situation and continued fighting between government and Al Shabab fighters aid agencies are not able to reach and provide and help to drought-affected people, specially in Somalia.
Women and children are worst affected from recent drought and every one child out of five is facing risk of malnutrition and death. Some people walked 400km in search of food and water.
According to the World Food Programme, after the worst drought in 60 years the world response is still very slow and things are going from bad to worse every day due to lack of funds as aid agencies are not able to reach drought-affected areas.
Developed countries can spend millions of dollars against unseen enemies in different parts of the world but can’t provide relief to the suffering people. The UN and G8 are also silent and doing nothing to provide any relief to the dying people.
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Turmoil in Nigeria

Things are going from bad to worse in Nigeria. Because of the government’s weak position, extremist elements are gaining ground in several areas. More than 200 people have lost their lives in the past three months. Now, the country is facing a Yemen– and Somalia-like situation. The government is not doing much to control it. Extremist elements like Boko Haram are furthering their agenda of controlling young minds according to their skewed interpretations of the Shariah. The number of suicide attacks has increased dramatically in the last few months. Boko Haram openly claimed responsibility for these attacks, but no one was brought to justice. Several churches have also been attacked and several people have lost their lives in revenge attacks. Due to this tense situation, there is a widening gap between the different sections of society and the poor people are the worst affected. The country has enough oil resources, but the government is unable to change the fortunes of its people as more than half of its population is below the poverty line. — Khawaja Umer Farooq, by e-mail

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Helping Yemen overcome crisis

Jeddah Saudi Arabia
Jeddah Saudi Arabia 
According to reports, Saudi Arabia has pledged $ 3.25 billion aid to its neighbor Yemen for development projects and to ensure the country’s security and stability. At a time when world is passing through worst economic and financial crises, Saudi government has set great examples for others to emulate. Yemen is struggling to counter an alarming humanitarian crisis as more than half of its population is living under poverty while unemployment and militancy is increasing in the country.
Recently, a suicide bomber killed 96 soldiers in a massive attack in the heart of Sanaa and two other would-be attackers were arrested. The fact is that poverty, hunger and unemployment are the main reasons of terrorism in different parts of the world. Most of the countries affected by terrorism don’t have enough resources to provide better standard of living, employment and basic necessities to their people. This is the main reason why countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen have become breeding grounds for militancy. Due to poverty and unemployment militant organizations find it easy to hire new recruits and use them according to their wishes. Past experience proved that growing militancy can’t be contained through the use of power, airstrikes and killing people. Financial assistance, employment opportunities and development can provide better results in fighting terrorism and militancy.
(Khawaja Umer Farooq, Jeddah)
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