All Articles Tagged "famine"

Without Help, 4 Million People In South Sudan Will Face Famine

May 22nd, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Life in South Sudan in 2012. The situation has since deteriorated. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Life in South Sudan in 2012. The situation has since deteriorated. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

This is heartbreaking. UN officials say that four million people–or more than a third — of South Sudan’s population will be on the edge of starvation by year’s end. Fighting has engulfed the world’s newest country, wrecking food markets and forcing farmers to abandon their livestock as they flee the violence between rebels and government forces.

“The violence has disrupted planting of sorghum, maize and groundnuts, and forced herders to abandon their animals or lead them to areas with poor grazing, said the officials,” reports the Huffington Post.

“We think that by the end of the year, 1.5 million will be internally displaced, 850,000 will be refugees and 4 million on the edge of starvation,” Toby Lanzer, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, told Reuters.

There is a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar that has been going on since mid-December. And Kiir told the BBC that “the civilian population is going to face one of the worst famines that has ever been witnessed in South Sudan” and appealed to Machar for an end to the conflict.

“We have to stop this fighting so that we save the people’s lives,” Kiir said.

Thousands have also been killed in the uproar,  even though the two sides signed a second ceasefire deal earlier this month. But that didn’t last long. And fighting has affected oil production, which is important for the country’s economy.

South Sudan only declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

According to U.N. officials in Oslo, $1.8 billion in aid is needed. So far donors including the United States, Britain and Norway, have agreed to donate more than $600 million, in addition to the $536 million already pledged.

Southern Somaila Suffers As Famine Worsens Over The Horn Of Africa

September 6th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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by Cynthia WrightThe famine that has been ravaging the Horn of Africa has spread into the sixth area, the Bay region in Southern Somalia. This has left approximately 750,000 people facing starvation with hundreds of people dying daily. The Bay region marks the sixth region to succumb to famine since July.

This has been the worst drought the region has faced within 60 years and it appears that it is far from over. While 12.4 million people across the Horn of Africa have been affected by the drought – Somalia has taken the brunt of its devastation.

Mark Bowden, the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator has declared the Bay region an official famine area. Not only that, out of the hundreds of people dying every day, nearly half of them are children. With the child malnutrition rate in the Bay region hovering at 58 percent – aid organizations have become concerned that the percentage will increase drastically before adequate help can arrive.

A report issued by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has noted that due to the two consecutive poor harvests grain prices have skyrocketed – leaving poor families in a bind. Even if the January harvest comes out normal – which is hard to gauge, until after the rainy season in October – it will take months for poor families to feel stable again.

“This crisis is not going away any time soon and we are still looking at, over the next 12 months, acute numbers of population in need. Part of the reason we are facing the situation that we are in now is that we didn’t get the money at the beginning of the year when we warned of the famine.” Grainne Moloney of the U.N.’s Food Security and Nutrition and Analysis stated.

It also doesn’t help that the al Qaeda affiliated group, al Shabaab is controlling the food shipments into the South, allowing aid agencies to only deliver food to 1 million of those currently suffering. In an attempt to make things better, agencies have turned to using food and cash vouchers, which families use in exchange for supplies at their local markets.

“We must remember that time is not on our side. Every minute, more people, mostly women and mostly children, are dying. They’re becoming sick. They are fleeing their homes. We must respond. We need to rise to the level of this emergency by acting smarter and faster than we have before to achieve both short-term relief and long-term progress,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented.

As it stands, the people living in the Horn of Africa will need about $2.5 billion dollars to make it out of this crisis. Currently, $1 billion has been pledged. The African Union has also committed to another $350 million, which marks the first time the union has come forward in this particular way.

The United States has pledged $600 million in aid, along with providing emergency help by securing long-term development assistance through the Obama Administration’s, Feed the Future.

Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.

300,000 Somali Children at Risk of Dying

August 20th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AP) — More than 300,000 children in the Horn of Africa are severely malnourished “and in imminent risk of dying” because of drought and famine, the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Friday. The United Nations says that tens of thousands of people have died in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti — and the organization warns that the famine hasn’t peaked. More than 12 million people in the region need food aid, according to the U.N.  “The crisis in the Horn of Africa is a human disaster becoming a human catastrophe,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake told reporters.

Read More…

South Sudan Army Turns Over A New Leaf By Wanting To Assist Somalia’s Weak Government

August 17th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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by Cynthia Wright

Soon after joining the African Union, the controversial South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) went under a complete reconstruction in order to become a more modern and conventional army. Afterwards, the reformed militia plans to contribute to the peacekeeping missions of the United Nations and the African Union. At the same time, an offering such as this can be seen as two-fold being that the offering of troops to peacekeeping missions happens to be a good way for some countries to earn more foreign currency.

Army spokesman Philip Aguer released a statement late on Monday, where he detailed that the SPLA would soon be ready to go anywhere and help out as much as possible.

Even though, the UN has several peacekeeping missions around the world, the AU chips in to handle the missions in Somali and Sudan’s Darfur region. The South Sudan’s army would be a welcome contribution to the AU and Somalia with the SPLA averaging around 180,000 fighters. Yet, Aguer has also stated that the sending of South Sudanese troops is not “an immediate possibility.”

Sadly, for Somalia, that reasoning has been nothing new with few African nations willing to contribute troops to the 9,000 AU force permeating their country. With Somalia being upfront with needing 20,000 troops in order to detain the Islamist, group, al-Shabab, what will happen still remains a mystery.

Being that, Al-Shabab – a devout Islamic group with ties to al-Qaeda currently controls a large portion of south and central Somalia (which happens to include those locations adversely affected by the drought) – the situation is already in dire straits.

At the same time, South Sudan’s foreign officer, Deng Alor Kuol admitted that the new state was more than willing to lend a hand despite what others might think.

“It is part of our responsibility to help our Somali brothers and sisters to achieve peace,” Kuol told the BBC’s Focus on Africa program.

Last year, the UN Security Council approved 12,000 AU troops to enter Somalia, even though the AU specified that they needed 20,000. Even with that, there has been no word on whether that request will ever be fully granted. With Somalia being one of the few countries willing to lend support with Malawi and Nigeria both failing to fulfill obligations due to not wanting to be dragged into the long-standing Somalia and al-Shabab feud. With how it stands today, all the troops deployed in Somalia are made up from citizens of Uganda and Burundi.

Unfortunately, the issues surrounding Somalia seem to be ever growing, being that the country has been without a stable central government since the Siad Barre regime failure in 1991. Now that the country lacks sufficient military care, along with handling a severe famine since June, there appears to be no end in sight.

Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.

Famine in Horn of Africa: World’s Worst Food Crisis in 50 Years

July 28th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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A starving child in SomaliaBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

East Africa is reeling under the effects of a devastating famine, which could lead to the immediate  deaths of 800,000 children from starvation due to a confluence of destructive forces. Overall, 11 million people in the region are threatened by what experts agree is the world’s worst food crisis in 50 years. In a triangular area called the Horn of Africa, crops and animals are dying due to a persistent drought that has strangled the ability of its nation’s farmers to produce food. Compounding the pain is an ongoing war in southern Somalia, whose militant factions are blocking aid groups seeking to transport food to the suffering.

The countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritea are among the most profoundly ravaged in what some aid workers are now calling the “Triangle of Death.” These workers have witnessed hundreds of thousands crawl into camps, many to eat their first nutritious meals in months. The facilities are dirty, over-crowded, and lacking in the infrastructure needed to sustain masses of refugees. Yet, these meccas of hope are famine victims’ only oasis. The Week describes their circumstances:

Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have turned refugee camps into teeming cities without medical aid, sanitation, or water — and these refugees are the ones lucky enough to have survived the arduous trek to a camp. The largest of these, the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, has a population approaching 400,000. “It’s almost as if they have been abandoned by humanity,” says Azad Essa, as quoted by NPR.

America has promised “an additional $28 million” on top of “$431 million in food and non-food emergency aid already pledged,” The Week continues. This complements the $230 million promised by the European Union. But while the U.N. is actively working to funnel support to the starving, until warfare in the region abates, delivering enough aid might prove impossible.

Despite this barrier, efforts to collect funds are springing up across the globe. Elizabeth Flock of The Washington Post informs us that you can help “by texting ‘FOOD’ to UNICEF (864233) to donate $10.” This will feed a child for ten days.

Her illuminating post outlines more background for what some have called a predictable, man-made disaster, and offers more ways to help East Africans now.

Writer Maryan Qasim adds on this crisis — that could have been averted:

What is needed right now is for the international community to act immediately to save the millions who are starving. Food, water, medicine and shelter are all urgently needed. Aid needs to be delivered strategically to minimise the distance people are travelling in search of food and water. It is also vital that the UN and international NGOs work closely with the Somali diaspora NGOs, the locals and the transitional government, as it’s Somalis who know the people, the culture, the country and the region.

I hope world leaders are listening and finally take swift action.

I just sent my text.  Have you?

Somalia, Horn of Africa Coping With Devestating Drought

July 12th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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Somalia has experienced drought and famine before, but new reports of the current crisis indicate that the famine in the East African country is one of the most severe in its history.

According to UNICEF, one in six children under five years of age are dying in Somalia.

Due to fighting and drought within Somalia, many have migrated to neighboring countries, joining in overcrowded refugee camps. The lack of sanitation and poor conditions have led to an increase in typhoid and cholera.

The largest refugee camp in Kenya has over 400,000 people and is increasing daily.

The strife of Somalia is not only being felt by its citizens obviously but by the neighboring countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya who are under-equipped to deal with the plight. The World Food Program says its working to raise the $477 million in food deliveries needed by the Horn of Africa to care for over 10 million people in dire need. This is the worst regional drought in over 60 years according to the World Health Organization.

Mother Teresa of Somalia Fights Famine With Her Own Means

June 28th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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Dr. Hawa Abdi and DaughtersBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Dr. Hawa Abdi began her humanitarian efforts in her native Somalia by opening a one-room hospital for women on her 1,300 acre farm. Twenty years later, her home is now a sprawling camp supporting 100,000 people seeking refuge from the country’s  war-torn, famine-ravaged surroundings. Children are tragically facing the highest risks there, as seven youngsters a day die under Dr. Abdi’s care from starvation. No humanitarian organization will come to her aid, because of the extreme danger of the region.

Despite these challenges, Mama Hawa — as her flock calls her — persists in trying to feed and provide medical care to the families under her protection. She and her two daughters, both medical doctors, administer to these needy by teaching farming and fishing, providing education and day care, and even giving free water and space those near her hospital. Such services are available only at a price in most of Somalia today, as anarchy and conflict have made the preservation of life a luxury most people choose to profit from.

While she has maintained the camp successfully until now, Dr. Hawa Abdi’s challenges might become insurmountable if financial aid is not forthcoming soon. A worsening drought in East Africa has killed all the animals on the farm, and it is feared that the people are next. The Daily Beast reports:

Right now, however, the camp, and the country, have reached a new level of crisis. Hawa needs help—a lot of it. She is receiving no food help—none—from any international organization. In the past, the International Red Cross and World Food Program have helped supply food when things get bad. Doctors Without Borders, and others, have run a clinic and supplied basic medicine.

Every international aid organization has now abandoned her, in part because of the political challenges of reaching the camp, which is located in an area under the control of the militant forces of the al-Qaeda inspired group, al-Shabaab. However, for the most part, since Hawa successfully defended the camp from their attack in May 2010,  the militants have left her largely alone.

Hawa’s work is not political. It’s entirely humanitarian, and even the militants seem to get that. Or perhaps they’re a bit scared of this 64-year-old lawyer, doctor, survivor of brain cancer: a force of nature who buried more than 10,000 people during the famine of the 1990s.

Back then, she says, they had international help. Now, she’s on her own.

According to Democracyinaction.org, a group called Vital Voices has joined with “Glamour magazine to help support Dr. Hawa Abdi’s cause through their Women of the Year Fund initiative.” Through their web site, you can make a contribution that will help Dr. Hawa Abdi prevent 49 children a week from dying of malnutrition, while granting countless life-affirming opportunities to others. She and her daughters have remained in their struggling land to assist those who cannot fend for themselves, risking their lives in the process. If the international aid community will not contribute to their cause, citizens of the world who care can and should.

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