Entries in Famine (16)


Famine in Somalia Kills 5 Percent of Total Population

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- The drought and famine in Somalia killed 5 percent of the nation’s total population, and 10 percent of all children under 5-years-old, according to the first in-depth report on the famine released Thursday.

The study, conducted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU) and the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), was funded by the United States and British governments. It tracked the drought and accompanying famine from October 2010 to April 2012.

About 258,000 Somalis died from famine. Roughly half, 133,000 were under 5-years old. Outside of the capital of Mogadishu, young children fared even worse, with a full 18 percent falling victim to famine.

Between May and August of 2011 when the famine was at its worst, mortality peaked at about 30,000 excess deaths per month.

The famine was official declared by the UN in July of 2011. The year before was the driest the eastern Horn of Africa had seen in 60 years, leading to poor cereal crops, livestock deaths, and a drop in labor demand and household income. This was made worse by a decreased level of humanitarian assistance and food aid compared to previous years.

The deaths measured by the study are only those caused by famine-related causes, not counting deaths due to conflict or other circumstances. According to the report there were an additional 290,000 deaths not directly caused by famine during the 29 month-long period examined in the study. This adds up to a total of more than half a million deaths over 29 months.

Chris Hillbruner, Decision Support Advisor for FEWS NET, said what occurred in Somalia was “one of the worst famines in the last 25 years.”

“With the expertise of two renowned institutions, we now have a picture of the true enormity of this human tragedy,’’ said Mark Smulders, Senior Economist for FAO.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


African Delegates Discuss Management of Famine in Horn of Africa

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- Representatives of nations affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa gathered in Nairobi to explore ways to manage the crisis. Among those in attendance at the U.N. compound were delegates from the host country, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The Kenyan foreign minister, Moses Wetangula, says there's not just one reason behind the migration of people in the region.

"Why are we having economic refugees from Somalia running to Kenya? Many of them are not coming because they are political refugees, the majority of them are economic refugees," he said.

Wetangula added that the west could do a lot more to help.

"We are continuously reminding the rest of the world that if NATO can engineer an attack on Libya and spend billions of dollars to drive out Gadhafi, they can spend a little of that to save the dying people in the Horn of Africa," Wetangula said. "If America can spend billions of dollars in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, surely they can spend a little fraction of that to build dams in these dry lands of the Horn of Africa, to help normalize Somalia, to help produce food, to settle communities."

The U.N. is calling the drought the worst in 60 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Clinton on Horn of Africa Famine: 'Time Is Not on Our Side'

The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged the international community to do more to support famine relief in the Horn of Africa, and warned that time is running out.

"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," she said in a speech to the International Food Policy Research Institute.

"I came today to make sure that in my own country and beyond, people we know we have a crisis, and we must respond. We must try to save those lives that are being lost in those brutal marches to try to get to safety," she said.

Clinton also announced an additional $17 million in famine relief. She acknowledged that fiscal restraints make such a request more difficult, but said it was important.

"I certainly understand the difficult budget times we are living through, but we have to rededicate ourselves to doing development differently, as we said we would," she said.

Clinton used much of her speech to urge countries and experts to find a way to ensure this is the last famine.

"This cycle is not inevitable," she said. "A hunger crisis is not solely an act of God: It is a complex problem of infrastructure, governance, markets, education. These are things we can shape and strengthen."

She pushed back against those who said this current crisis must be solved first, saying it could provide the perfect opportunity to learn.

"Let's use this opportunity to make very clear what more we need to do together to try to avoid this happening again," Clinton said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somalia Famine: Help Arrives in Mogadishu

George Doyle/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Help has arrived for some of Somalia’s most famine-stricken people in Mogadishu.

BBC News reports that aid was flown to the region in the UN refugee agency’s first airlift to Somalia’s capital in five years.

According to the UN, 3.2 million people -- nearly half the country’s population -- is in need of immediate assistance.

In addition to the five famine zones riddling the country, more than 11 million people across the Horn of Africa are experiencing the devastating effects of the region’s worst drought in 60 years.

The U..S has given $105 million toward famine-relief efforts, which had been hampered by al Qeada-linked Islamic extremists who had previously prohibited foriegn aid shipments.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


At Least 7 Killed in Somalian Famine Clash

TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images(DADAAB, Kenya) -- Refugees from Somalia are still arriving in Kenya, fleeing from a drought that is said to be the worst in 60 years.

Aid agencies on the border are working to provide temporary housing and food rations for the thousands who have trekked to the world's largest refugee camp.

What began as a United Nations aid effort in Somalia, has turned chaotic and violent. Witnesses say Somali government troops opened fire on famine refugees, killing at least seven people.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Extremists Threatening Aid to Somalia

STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- Food and medicine -- the necessities 10 million people sorely need in famine-stricken Somalia -- continues to be threatened by the Islamic extremist group al Shabab.

In a grim echo of the situation in the war-torn country during the 1990s, the al-Qeada-lined group on Sunday tried to block vital humanitarian aid routes into the capital city of Mogadishu, as al Shabab continued its insurgency against Somalia's United Nations-backed government.

ABC News' David Muir, the only American network reporter covering the famine, was on the front lines as African Union soldiers engaged in a firefight with al Shabab combatants, desperately trying to keep the group from advancing even closer to Mogadishu.

The extremist group has also refused to operate refugee camps in the southern areas it controls, forcing millions to walk for days and weeks on end through the drought-ridden south to reach camp -- and have a fighting chance for survival.

While touring the frontlines on Monday, ABC News' convoy was hit with gunfire. No one was hurt.
A short distance away, ABC News visited a refugee camp overflowing with people young and old, fighting for their lives in the midst of what the United Nations has called the worst food emergency in the world.

One mother told ABC News she walked 15 days from her home in the south to reach the camp. She and countless others continue to wait for the food and medical attention that will keep them alive; the question is, whether or not the gunfire will stop in time.


Refugee Camps Swell as East African Famine Worsens

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(DADAAB, Kenya) -- After many families make the long, perilous journey from Somalia to the refugee camps in Kenya, they are in for another excruciating wait.

Once the refugees get through the gate they are brought inside to be registered. Fingerprints are taken and then families receive yellow bands and are given a ration that is intended to last 20 days. However, it can take two months before families can enter into one of the refugee camps.

"It is a problem," said William Spindler, the UNHCR director.

Saturday the UN said that if families run out of food, they are allowed to come back for more. But few waiting in these desert outskirts know that.

More than 1,000 refugees arrive and register every day.

The camp has now swollen to 400,000 refugees, which is equal to the population of Cleveland or Minneapolis.

Beyond the swelling refugee camps here in Kenya, the UN warned this week in emergency meetings that more than 10 million people could face starvation across the horn of Africa unless they get food and quickly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kenya's Refugees: A Dangerous Trek for a Better Future

Oli Scarff/Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK By David Muir

(DADAAB, Kenya) -- On Thursday, we made our way to the desolate, scorched landscape that is the final stretch of road between Somalia and the refugee camps in Kenya. It is a well-worn route that has been traveled on foot by tens of thousands of people desperate for food.

Mothers carrying their young children on the path to freedom have faced not only blistering heat, but also bandits who line the entire journey. Many have been forced to leave loved ones behind, too weak to complete the trek.

On the road Thursday, we met a mother who had been walking for 10 days. Her children had run ahead to the tents that pepper the horizon.

Tent cities have sprouted up as far as the eye can see. They are filled with families waiting to get into the refugee camps.

The refugees now spill out into the desert and doctors have started coming to them. The doctors are noticing that its not just the babies and toddlers that are going hungry, it's the older children, too. The famine is so severe, malnutrition is affecting 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds.

If they can just get the nutrients they need, most would be able to make a quick recovery.

Inside a maternity ward, a mother who gave birth to her baby on the road sat with her newborn. She said other mothers who were making the long journey saw her go into labor and helped deliver the baby girl.

That mother and her newborn were doing well at the refugee camp. There were likely thousands more coming after them, families making a dangerous trek not only to find food but to find a future for their children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kenya's Refugees: A Perilous Journey for Food and Freedom


(DADAAB, Kenya) -- Wednesday morning, we boarded the U.N. plane in Nairobi, Kenya, and soon the view out the window was of a parched landscape. We were making our way to a land where hundreds of thousands have already arrived on foot, some walking more than 100 miles to food and freedom.

It is estimated up to 1,500 people make the perilous journey from Somalia to Kenya every day, the vast majority being mothers and children. When we landed, we found doctors, nurses, entire teams of aid workers literally feeding children back to life.

On the ground, the dust could not hide the dire need. But soon, we discovered something else: the resiliency of the children.

I asked Dr. Unni Karunakara, president of the aid organization Doctors Without Borders, how long it takes to see a difference in the kids.

"In one or two days," he said. "Within a day or two, sometimes you see somebody sit up."

Doctors Without Borders allowed us into its intensive care unit, where we met a mother and her 8-month-old daughter, whose eyes were barely open, only able to muster enough energy for a blank stare, a sure sign of malnutrition.

Another baby girl came in a week ago from Somalia with her sisters. A clinic worker told us they were all starving when they arrived, but she has seen them get better before her eyes.

Dr. Ruth Mayforth, a pediatric surgeon from Springfield, Ill., has never experienced anything like this. She shows us a baby wrapped in a special heating blanket. Even in the stifling heat of the desert, it is needed to keep the tiny body going.

Another key to survival is a simple supplement made of peanuts and milk powder. It is saving lives one mini-meal at a time.

The supplement is helping fragile bodies sit up and gain weight, one desperately needed pound at a time. Doctors Without Borders calls it a powerful tool in its arsenal.

Essentially, it is a meal in a package for children who are severely malnourished. In many cases, children are given two packages a day. It costs less than a dollar and is a tiny piece of hope in a region desperate for help.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


U.N. to Begin Airlifting Food to Famine-Stricken Somalia

George Doyle/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Two areas of Southern Somalia ravaged by famine will now begin receiving airlifted food from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), according to the BBC. The sorely needed supplies will begin arriving at the country's wartorn capital, Mogadishu Tuesday.

At a recent emergency meeting in Rome, Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Ibrahim warned that more than 3.5 million people in Somalia are at the risk of starvation.

The U.N. declared famine in the East African country two weeks ago after severe drought -- that the U.N. insists is the area’s worst in 60 years -- only worsened conditions.

Nearly $12 million will go toward the immediate assistance of those most affected by the drought.

Although Somalia is believed to be worst-hit by the crisis, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti have also been affected, putting more than 10 million people at risk of starvation.

The problem though, is not only weather-related, but is compounded by political complications, as militant Islamists, who control most of Somalia, have banned the WFP from their areas, according to the BBC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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