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Somalia: violence + famine + economic and social chaos

It is a country battered by fierce armed conflict. Today it suffers from food insecurity and it could lead to a serious crisis of widespread famine in that weakened state in the Horn of Africa.


Oscar Bravo Fong


Such a prediction experts have made could become a reality if international aid, with food and other means of subsistence and vaccines against diseases, is not sent to that territory rapidly and effectively, in answer to repeated appeals from United Nations agencies and other organizations.

According to data from humanitarian organizations, 4.6 million people are food insecure in Somali territory, which could rise to 5.4 million in July, of which 2.2 million will be in an acute emergency situation.

Also, according to a report by the non-governmental organization the Norwegian Refugee Council, the lack of rainfall has caused the displacement of more than one million civilians in recent months, who require urgent assistance.

In addition to this, around 954 thousand children will suffer acute malnutrition this year, including 174,600 severely malnourished, a situation that is aggravated by the population’s lack of access to medical services.

In this calamitous situation, the decrease in food production is affected, caused, among other factors, by recurrent droughts, such as the current one.

During the last two rainy seasons – from October to December and from April to June – rainfall fell to a level that aggravated the problem of water shortages in large areas of Somalia.

This climatic anomaly, in addition to causing riverbeds to narrow, destroys crops and kills livestock, especially in areas of the centre and north of the country, such as the regions of Puntland and Somaliland.

Referring to the complex panorama of the Somali territory, last June the Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the United Nations, Mark Lowcock, said that Mogadishu has a long history of food crises and famines.

He maintained that this situation is linked to a long armed conflict and climate shocks, combined with absent or limited governance and chronic poverty reflected in the media.

It is worth remembering that in 1992, a year after the fall of the regime of the then Somali president, Mohamed Siad Barre, 300,000 civilians died in the country in the midst of a famine crisis.

Those deaths, associated with the struggle between clans and the destruction of water and agricultural resources, were followed others with the passage of time.

Last May, to help Somali and regional communities affected by irregularities in the rainfall pattern, humanitarian agencies asked the international community to contribute 710.5 million dollars.

In this context, it was learned that the humanitarian response plan in 2019 for Somalia, a country that requires 1.080 billion dollars, finances only 22 percent of its needs.

This state and others in the Horn of Africa, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, need substantial investment to build their capacities for resilience and economic and social development.

After a season without the expected rains this year, in these last two countries thousands of people also suffer from insufficient food and lack of sufficient water.

The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies insist on mobilizing resources, especially for Somalia, a country that, at the same time as experiencing increasing food insecurity, suffers the effects of an internal armed conflict.

Providing food assistance to millions of needy people is difficult because the radical Islamic group Al Shabab, which in Arabic means ‘the young’, controls large areas of the centre and south of the territory.

To eradicate this extremist group in Somalia and other African countries, which emerged in 2006 as the radical wing of the now defunct Council of Islamic Courts, a multinational force of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amison) is currently fighting these terrorist militias.

The prevailing violence and food insecurity, caused mainly by the lack of rainfall, find a perfect breeding ground on Somali soil to increase economic and social chaos, experts warn. (PL)

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: -(Photos: Pixabay


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