Friday, May 3, 2013

A million Somalis died in famine - Sudan Tribune

A new report released on Thursday revealed that 258,000 people in Somalia died during the severe famine that hit the East African nation between 2010 and 2012.
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A Somalian child eats gruel in Baidoa on December 17, 1992 after US and French troops arrived on December 16 in what has been described as the epicentre of the famine (MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)
The report was jointly released by the US funded famine early warning system (FEWSNET) and by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
The aid agency report said tens of thousands of people died needlessly because the international community was slow to respond to the crises.
It was disclosed that among the total victims more than half were children aged five and under.
According to the report, between May and August 2011, when the famine and food shortages reach in its worst level, 30,000 people were dying each month.
The newly revealed death toll is far higher than a previous estimation by the UK government which put the figures between 50,000 and 100,000.
Continued fighting as well as lack of security, which made it difficult for humanitarian Aid agencies to handout food for the needy, were major impacts stated as effects of the famine.
Most Western aid agencies were forced to withdraw their operation due continued threat from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic extremists group, Al-Shabaab.
The small number of aid agencies who managed to continue operating were also prevented from delivering food aid by Al Shabaab.
Following the report, Oxfam has urged world leaders - who are meeting in London next week to discuss the situation in Somalia - to urgently take concerted steps to avoid any further devastating famine in Somalia.
Tens of thousands of Somalis have been fleeing from Al Shabaab controlled areas to other parts of the country in search of food.
Many more have crossed borders to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
Currently African Union peacekeepers as well as troops from Ethiopian and Kenya are helping the weak government of Somalia in the battle against Al Shabaab.
The war-torn African nation is witnessing a relatively improved peace and security in recent months following the weakening of the radical group.
Spokesperson for the UNHCR branch office in Ethiopia, Kisut Gebregzabiher, on Thursday toldSudan Tribune that the influx of Somali refugees to Ethiopia has declined in recent months from in thousands to hundreds.
“We have registered 4,726 new arrivals in February and some 1,990 in March while less than 600 in April” he said.
According to the UN refugee agency official, currently there are about 235,000 Somalia refugees in Ethiopia camps.
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle