6439Thousands may starve in 'forgotten' Somalia crisis
- Mar 18, 2006Thousands may starve in 'forgotten' Somalia crisis
By Rob Crilly in Nairobi
Published: 17 March 2006
Donors are failing to respond to the unfolding
humanitarian disaster in Somalia, where more than 1.5
million people are on the brink of starvation,
according to aid agencies operating in the region.
Millions of dollars have been raised for other
countries of the Horn of Africa, where a series of
successive droughts has cut a swath through livestock
and sent malnutrition rates soaring.
Yet charities are warning that Somalia, already
reeling from the effects of 15 years of conflict,
risks being forgotten. "There has been a complete
absence of support for Somalia - a country which is at
high risk of a humanitarian catastrophe," said Tony
Porter, director of emergencies at Save the Children.
Waterholes and pastureland have turned to dust across
the Horn in the past two years. Five rainy seasons
have come and gone without the downpours needed to
replenish rivers and wetlands. Up to 80 per cent of
cattle herds have died, dealing a devastating blow to
the region's nomadic herding tribes. Many are now
totally reliant on deliveries of food and water.
The United Nations estimates that more than 11 million
people are at risk of famine in Somalia, Ethiopia,
Kenya and Djibouti.
Dominic Nutt, Christian Aid's emergency specialist who
recently returned from Somalia, said he found people
begging for water at the side of the road. Thousands
will die if the international community does not
respond rapidly, he said. "The problem is that the
money tends to follow TV. At the moment it is very
dangerous for agencies to operate there, let alone
journalists, so the pictures that make it on to the
bulletins are largely from Kenya."
Somalia has been without a functioning central
government since 1991, when Siad Barre's regime was
toppled. Warlords have carved the country into a
series of personal fiefdoms, making travel impossible
without an armed escort.
The country is experiencing its worst drought in more
than 40 years, but the Red Cross says it has only
managed to raise 10 per cent of its £11m target for
2006. All now pin their hopes on rains due next month.
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