Sunday 8 December 2019

Somalis fleeing drought for war-ravaged capital

Matteo Fagotto

Hit by the worst drought in 60 years, tens of thousands of people are leaving the rural areas of central and southern Somalia for the war-ravaged capital, Mogadishu, where last week the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) started an airlift operation to deliver food to 20 feeding centres.

Despite continuing fighting, with troops of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union-led forces battling the Islamic militants of al-Shabaab, more and more people are coming into the city, hoping to find relief from a drought that is affecting 11 million in Somalia.

The UN declared a famine in two southern regions of Somalia on July 20, but Abdirahman Omar Osman, the government's spokesperson, said the emergency is even more serious.

Every day about 3,000 people arrive in Ifo, Dagahaley and Hagadera, the three camps at Dadaab in Kenya, which now have more than 380,000 refugees.

The US president Barack Obama has said the emergency has not had the attention it deserved. Speaking during a meeting with the presidents of Benin, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Niger on Friday last, Mr Obama asked Africa to play a bigger role in assisting.

The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has predicted that famine will spread to all of southern Somalia, parts of which are controlled by al-Shabaab, which banned foreign aid in 2009. Al-Shabaab has allowed some food in but so far no regular supplies have reached the areas.

© Observer

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