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6439Thousands may starve in 'forgotten' Somalia crisis

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  • Zafar Khan
    Mar 18, 2006
      Thousands 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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