Somalia Drought: At Least 110 People Dead From Starvation In 48 Hours

An ongoing drought in Somalia claimed dozens of lives over the span of just two days. At least 110 people died from starvation and “water-related diarrhea” in the Bay and Bakool regions, according to Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

“About 110 people have died in the past 48 hours due to drought and severe water-related diarrhea in southern Somalia, especially in the Bay and Bakool areas,” Khaire revealed Saturday (March 4). “Somalis, wherever they are, must rescue their needy brothers, who will starve if they are not helped,” he added. “The government’s priority task will be to help those affected by the drought.”

The severe water shortage has put millions at risk of starvation, including more than 300,000 children. In addition, as much as 60 percent of the country’s livestock has been wiped out by the drought.

“There is no medicine and the disease has now become an epidemic,” said a local authority in the Awdiinle village, where approximately 69 people (mostly children and the elderly) died.

The death toll announcement is the first since newly-elected Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared the drought a national disaster Tuesday (Feb. 28).

“Those of us gathered here today can neither make the rain come nor provide adequate water to keep livestock alive,” Farmaajo said during a meeting attended by federal government cabinet members, alongside officials from the United Nations, the African Union, and more. “But we can respond more effectively and we must do so now simply because the Somali nation is threatened with famine.”

The East African country, which has been ravaged by famine and deadly droughts before, is turning to the international community for help. “We need to act decisively,” noted Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arteh. “We need to act massively, and we need to act now if we are to prevent a repeat of the awful scenes of 2011 and 2012 when more than a quarter of a million people died.”

According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, the number of Somalis in need of assistance spiked from an estimated 5 million in September 2016 to over 6.2 million today.

Tags: Somalia