All Articles Tagged "horn of africa"

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.

East Africa Famine: Media Ignores Deadly Crisis to Focus on Politics

August 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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Famine in SomaliaBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Did you know that 800,000 children are in danger of dying of starvation in the coming weeks if aid is not delivered to the Horn of Africa immediately? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The famine destroying the lives of east Africans is just now making it into the mainstream papers. Our nation’s media has been so focused on the debt ceiling debacle and the phone hacking scandal that pleas by aid organizations for funds have gone unheard. In fact, only one American news organization, ABC News, has a journalist on the ground in the area — now dubbed the Triangle of Death by aid workers stunned by the catastrophic suffering. Yahoo News reports:

ABC claims that it is the only American news network to have a reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia—the epicenter of Africa’s deadly and increasingly violent famine.

But that may soon change.

On Monday, the New York Times ran a heartbreakingly powerful image taken by photographer Tyler Hicks of a starving Somalian child on its cover, above-the-fold.


Until now, the media—the Times included—has been distracted by phone hacking and debt ceiling coverage to focus on the crisis there.

“The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan,” Stephanie Strom writes.

Aid workers have been warning the international community for some time that the ongoing war in the region combined with a worsening drought were destined to cause the massive food crisis now affecting 12 million individuals. It is a pathetic excuse to blame events of recent weeks for letting what some have called a man-made disaster progress to the point of costing almost one million innocent lives.

But more important than placing blame is focusing on what we can do now.

Organizations like British relief group Oxfam are stressing more than ever the urgent need for the public to donate funds — and for governments to follow through on their pledges. In addition, experts have underscored that organizations like the U.N. must work with local groups on the strategic delivery of support in war torn areas to side-step violent rebels.

It is unclear whether those seeking to ameliorate the devastation are being heard. Despite continuing requests for action, governments have been delayed in responding to the suffering bringing millions the brink of extinction.

In one startling example, The Washington Post revealed that recently “a donor conference [hosted by the African Union] to raise money for Somalia famine victims has been postponed for at least two weeks.” The reason for the postponement? Poor planning.

The region has suffered enough from the poor planning of world leaders, who keep pushing preventing the imminent deaths of millions to the bottom of their to-do lists. Many children in Somalia and Kenya do not have two weeks to live. The time is literally now or never, as the U.N. reports that the under-five death rate in Kenya is sharply rising.

In the midst of addressing our debt ceiling debate, President Obama admitted that this tragedy “hasn’t gotten as much attention here in the United States as it deserves.” If the American news media is culpable for failing to provide the necessary awareness, it is more important than ever for concerned citizens to make a grass roots efforts to assist the starving.

The New York Times has (finally) created a list of organizations working to provide aid to the Horn of Africa. It is important for us all to use this list to give what we can, in addition to pressuring world leaders to work intelligently to protect aid workers and refugees traveling through dangerous territories.

Rape is among the many dangers faced by Somalian women walking to refugee camps through areas studded with militants, and living on the outskirts of camps out of fear for their safety within them. The hell people are going through there is evident. The innocent are oppressed from all sides. Our insensitivity to their pain must end, regardless of the slow movements of those in power.

You have the power now to make a difference. Donate money, send emails to elected officials. Through our collective action, we might be able to prevent further calamity.

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.