According to a United Nations report released on July 27, malnutrition in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has reached alarming numbers.
Aid agencies in the region are incapable of meeting the needs of 350,000 malnourished people due to insufficient funds, recent drought and conflict.
The Somali government is comparing the crisis to a 2011 famine that killed approximately 260,000 people.
“Alarming rates of malnutrition have been observed among displaced communities in Mogadishu,” said the report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released over the weekend.
Somalia’s malnutrition rates actually hit a low point just last year, after the rebuilding and humanitarian aid that followed the 2011 famine. Today, nearly one-third of Somalia’s population is considered “stressed,” meaning their food security remains fragile. Citizens in this classification struggle to meet minimal food requirements for their families and remain vulnerable in times of famine or environmental crises that may result in more food insecurity.
As of last year, more than 200,000 children under the age of 5 were malnourished. Many impoverished families in Somalia rely on cereal stocks and crops which suffer tremendously when the nation experiences periods of very little rain. Many poor households choose to use their incomes to purchase water during dry seasons, which means children and other members of these households become more malnourished during droughts.
The U.N. in part blames the unstable, impoverished conditions in Somalia caused by decades of fighting and conflict in the country. Most recently, Al Shabaab rebels, who look to topple the Western-backed government of Somalia and impose their own strict Islamic laws, staged a series of attacks in Mogadishu during the month of Ramadan, which ends this week.
Because of this continuing conflict and the recent drought, the report said that food shortages were expected to worsen in the south and southeast of the country.
“The humanitarian community is mobilizing resources to address the serious situation, but the significant shortfall in funding for humanitarian activities has undermined the capacity to respond,” said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report regarding the recent crisis in Mogadishu.
Earlier this year, after the Al Shebaab rebel attacks, African Union forces launched a new campaign to drive the militants out of Somali towns and cities. Many citizens fled their homes during outbreaks of fighting. One major obstacle for aid organizations and convoys is reaching newly retaken towns with supplies and food for the malnourished.
The U.N. has allocated approximately $21 million in emergency funds to support humanitarian aid and rebuilding in Somalia. They have also allotted some funding to fight a recent outbreak of measles in the country.
OCHA estimates that it will need around $933 million for relief work this year. The money will pay for food, health care services and basic education for children.
– Paige Frazier