Thousands of Somalis Stricken With Famine, U.N. Desperately Seeks Help


Vibe | July 20, 2011 - 3:58 pm

Thousands of Somali citizens have been forced to scour streets for food and water after being hit with what CNN is calling “the worst drought in half a century.”

Following a United Nations declaration of famine, the organization now desperately seeks donations for the faltering east African nation:

“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,” said Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia. “We still do not have all the resources for food, clean water, shelter and health services to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis in desperate need.”

He said nearly half of the people in Somali — 3.7 million of them — are now in crisis and roughly $300 million is needed in the next two months for intervention. Aid workers call it the worst food crisis since a famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s that killed about 1 million people.

“Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine affected areas,” Bowden said.

While many Somalis have sought refuge in other regions, it’s still not enough. Dadaab, a Kenyan refuge complex which normally houses 90,000 bodies is “now bursting with nearly 400,000 people.”

International humanitarian agency Oxfam blames the famine on an overall lack of reaction to the situation, which has actually been going on for a while now:

“The warning signs have been seen for months, and the world has been slow to act. Much greater long-term investment is needed in food production and basic development to help people cope with poor rains and ensure that this is the last famine in the region.”

Read more at —Stephanie Long