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.

Mobs in South Africa, attack immigrants

More than 300 suspects have been arrested in South Africa in connection with deadly attacks on foreigners that have forced thousands to flee, the government said Sunday. “We once again unequivocally condemn the maiming and killing of our brothers and sisters from other parts of the continent,” the government said. “No amount of frustration or anger can justify these attacks and looting of shops.” Thousands sought refuge in temporary shelters after mobs with machetes attacked immigrants in Durban. The attacks in Durban killed two immigrants and three South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, authorities said. Heavily armed police have scrambled to stop clashes after local residents accused immigrants from other African nations of taking their jobs. The government praised law enforcement agencies for stopping further bloodshed in Durban. “We believe that their commitment to duty has prevented injuries and even deaths that could have happened if they security forces had not acted,” it said.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drought stokes rivalry between Kenyan cattle herders

Cattle rustling and competition for grazing have long troubled northern Kenya, but severe drought and political rivalries ahead of the elections have exacerbated the situation between ethnic tribes.  

Student protests in South Africa

 
Hundreds of students demanding free education have clashed with police in renewed violence at South Africa’s top university in Johannesburg after it attempted to reopen following recent unrest. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse stone-throwing protesters at Witwatersrand University, also known as Wits. Blade Nzimande, the country’s education minister, appealed for dialogue and condemned the violence, saying the university’s efforts to run its academic programme were being “held to ransom by irresponsible and disrespectful striking students”. Two arrests were made and minor injuries reported, according to a statement by the university. “The students started throwing sizeable rocks that could have maimed or killed people,” Wits said in a statement after trying to reopen on Monday.
Chaos started with protesters moving through science and mathematics buildings, seeking to disrupt classes. Libraries and a large laboratory were empty. Later, there were tense exchanges. As police helicopters circled, some protesters spilled into city streets. A bus was set on fire, and thick smoke billowed into the air. Thato Mokoena, one of the student leaders, called on the university management to stop “militarisation” of the campus. “The university needs to start realising that every day we have security and police, every day we have violence. Every other day when they are not here, everything is OK. So I think there should be a de-militarisation of our campuses,” he said. Police and student protesters also fought on a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, the African News Agency reported. Unrest was reported at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein as well.  

Insecurity and violence in South Sudan

On the fifth anniversary of its independence from Khartoum, South Sudan finds itself plunged into an ever-deepening cycle of violence. Despite a peace agreement in August and the formation of a transitional government of national unity in Juba in April, fighting has escalated across the country in recent weeks. On June 24, more than 100,000 civilians were forced from their homes in the town of Wau in the northwest when a force of government soldiers and irregular Dinka militia entered the town.
The men, armed with guns, pangas and spears, went from house to house in the south and west of the town, attacking civilians and looting their property, sources in Wau told Al Jazeera. Those targeted were mainly from a group of tribes collectively known as Fertit. Dozens were killed and many more injured. According to figures from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, almost 50,000 were displaced in Wau within the first week, and the numbers have since continued to grow. The International Committee of the Red Cross told that by June 30 it had given aid to 73,000 people displaced outside the town. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

58,000 children ‘facing death’ in drought-hit Somalia

More than 58,000 children in drought-hit Somalia will starve to death if they do not receive urgent support, the United Nations has warned. The situation in the country, where dry conditions are exacerbated by an exceptionally strong El Nino weather pattern, is “alarming and could get worse”, the UN said on Monday. It added that an estimated 4.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and some 950,000 people “struggle every day to meet their food needs”. “The level of malnutrition, especially among children, is of serious concern, with nearly 305,000 children under the age of five years acutely malnourished,” said Peter de Clercq, the UN aid chief for Somalia. “We estimate that 58,300 children face death if they are not treated,” he added
The warnings, based on the latest data collected by the UN, come four years after intense drought and war sparked a famine killing more than 250,000 people. Northern Somali areas, including self-declared independent Somaliland along the Gulf of Aden and semi-autonomous Puntland, are especially hard-hit. “We are deeply concerned … with severe drought conditions intensifying in Puntland and Somaliland, many more people risk relapsing into crisis,” the UN said, calling for $885m in aid.
The warning comes as neighbouring Ethiopia struggles to combat its worst drought for 30 years. At least 10.2 million people need food aid in Ethiopia, a figure the UN has warned could double within months, leaving a fifth of the population to go hungry.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. towards the end of March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet. It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement. Earth Hour 2016 was on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants’ local time.

Libyans celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Libyan revolution

Libyans celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, at Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli.