The Children’s Crises – Somalia
Somalia “The Children’s Crises” A famine in the 21st century
By Aura’s House Summer Intern, Elise Cevetello
This is a subject of vital importance. According to the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization, “Somalia is facing the worst humanitarian crises in the world” and sadly the situation is escalating.
What is going on?
The UN has now officially declared a famine in parts of Southern Somalia. It is the first declared famine in nineteen years. Without strong global action this disaster could continue to spread. East Africa is experiencing a series of droughts which are the worst seen in sixty years. This catastrophe is being called the “Children’s Crises” because an estimated 390,000 children in Somalia alone are suffering from malnutrition and could die of starvation. In addition, thousands upon thousands of children who have died already. The area that was hit the worst thus far is Southern Somalia. Refugees are fleeing across the borders of neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya but, unfortunately, they are finding that the conditions there are not much improved.
People are walking miles through the deserts to reach the camps, dying of starvation or being robbed of their few possessions by bandits along the way. One refugee camp, Dadaab, in Kenya is the largest in the world. Dadaab is currently busting with three times as many occupants as it was intended to house. It was originally intended for a capacity of 90,000 people and currently holds over 350,000 with more people arriving every day. This makes shelter an issue of vital concern. Tents cannot be put up fast enough to meet the demands of arrivals, furthermore, there is little place to hide from the harsh winds. Fortunately, in recent days, a new long awaited section was opened named the Ifo II site. Upon arrival to these camps, the ‘lucky ones’ are given food and water but many are left to wait for such necessities, sometimes for days.
Southern Somalia is currently the area in the most critical state but the drought has affected the Horn of Africa region so other counties such as Kenya and Ethiopia are also in peril (see photo below).
Image was taken from a BBC report issued on 16 August 2011. Ethiopia refugee camp child death rates ‘alarming’ – UN
On August 10, 2011, Ambassador Susan E. Rice (U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations) spoke of these devastating happenings in Somalia. Her talk can be viewed via the United Nations Webcast. She echoes what news organizations and aid foundations across the world are all saying; 12 million people in the horn of Africa are at immediate risk. Additionally, Anderson Cooper reports that “29,000 children under the age of 5 have already died from malnutrition.” Countries in the Horn of Africa have been affected differently depending on the lack of rainfall that they received and the time at which it came, if any fell at all. Some areas did not get any rain fall and others received as little as 30% of the normal amount. This followed two previous bad rainy seasons. Reports from some areas have indicated a ‘green drought,’ meaning there is plant life but nothing that can be eaten. Other sectors of the region are completely barren. In both scenarios, the crops have failed and food prices have sky rocketed as a consequence, contributing to the widespread hunger. Two weeks ago, al-Shbab who was in control of Somalia, made a withdrawal. Many blame this group for the worsening situation in Somalia because they were refusing to allow Somalian people to be vaccinated. This refusal caused outbreaks of diseases such as measles, in addition they were uncooperative with humanitarian aid teams.
What can I do to help?
The demand for basics such as food, water and medical support is outstripping the supply, even though resources have been increasing. This is a crises, which needs the attention and generosity of people all over the world. Various organizations have set up aid projects to bring the victims of this crises these vital items. To be apart of the effort, you can give $10 to any of the following organizations by texting the appropriate word to the corresponding numbers listed below. (United States phone numbers only). If you would like to be more involved, follow the links below to the donation pages.
* Save the Children, you can donate to their The 100 Campaign by following the link to their official website or by going to their Facebook cause page. To give $10 text “SURVIVE” to 20222 (from the United States).
* Action Against Hunger – “NOHUNGER” to 20222
* UNICEF – Text “FOOD” to 864233 To view a more complete list of organizations that you can get involved with check out Famine in East Africa: How you can help by Natalie. Angley, CNN. Information for this article as researched at the CNN, BBC, UN, WFP, FAO and UNICEF sites.
1 Jones, Bryony. What has caused the East Africa crisis? CNN Posted on 22 July 2011. Accessed on 18 August 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/07/20/somalia.famine.explainer/ 2Jones, Bryony. What has caused the East Africa crisis? CNN Posted on 22 July 2011. Accessed on 18 August 2011. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/07/20/somalia.famine.explainer/ 3Gupta, Sanjay.