In So­ma­lia, a drought killed 110 peo­ple in just 48 hours

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD -

The signs of cri­sis are ev­ery­where. Each day, thou­sands flood the cap­i­tal in search of food. More than 7,000 in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple sought help from one feed­ing cen­ter in just a day, a level of de­mand the cen­ter can­not pos­si­bly meet. In the coun­try’s north, lo­cal lead­ers say that 65 per­cent of live­stock have died. With­out rain, there is no food for the camels and goats to graze, and no milk for the chil­dren.

On Satur­day, So­mali Prime Min­is­ter Has­san Ali Khaire of­fered an­other stark fact to il­lu­mi­nate the mag­ni­tude of the coun­try’s drought. At least 110 peo­ple had died in the pre­vi­ous 48 hours in a sin­gle re­gion of So­ma­lia, he said in a state­ment. Most of the vic­tims were women and chil­dren, killed by wa­ter­borne dis­eases. Peo­ple know the wa­ter isn’t safe to drink, but they have no choice: There are no other sources.

“Out­breaks of di­ar­rhea and some cases of measles are strik­ing down peo­ple, mainly chil­dren al­ready weak­ened by hunger,” Ab­dul­lahi Omar Mo­hamed, chair­man of the vil­lage of Ow-di­inle in Bay re­gion, told lo­cal news me­dia.

It is the first death-toll an­nounce­ment the coun­try has of­fered as it braces for the famine al­most cer­tain to come. More than 5 mil­lion So­ma­lis are in im­me­di­ate need of food, the United Na­tions es­ti­mates.

The ex­pected famine comes af­ter three years of drought, par­tic­u­larly in the coun­try’s north. Crop pro­duc­tion and live­stock num­bers have dropped pre­cip­i­tously, and thou­sands of peo­ple have fled to ma­jor cities in search of food and sanc­tu­ary. The lack of clean wa­ter means that out­breaks of cholera and other wa­ter­borne dis­eases are a near-cer­tainty.

The on­go­ing vi­o­lence has made even small im­prove­ments hard. So­ma­lia has been wracked by decades of strife, and hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple still live in camps for in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple.

Much of the coun­try, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal, Mogadishu, is un­der reg­u­lar at­tack by the al-Qaeda-linked ter­ror­ist group al-Shabab.

So­mali Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Ab­dul­lahi Mo­hamed de­clared a state of dis­as­ter in the past week. He warned that wide­spread hunger “makes peo­ple vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ploita­tion, hu­man rights abuses and to crim­i­nal and ter­ror­ist net­works.” Hope for an easy rem­edy, though, is in short sup­ply. The United Na­tions says it needs $6 bil­lion in the next few weeks to pre­vent a calamity. So far, it has re­ceived half a bil­lion dol­lars.

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