Three years ago, Somali residents experienced one of the worst famines in history. The devastating epidemic resulted in over a quarter of a million deaths across the country. With severe droughts currently plaguing the nation, officials are concerned that more lives will be lost as the country spirals back into famine.
Al-Shabab, a militant terrorist group based in Somalia, has been preventing aid and relief services from reaching those in need. The group has blocked roadways, prohibiting standard trade from reaching millions of people. In addition, extreme droughts have wiped out a great percentage of livestock and local crops. In some areas, including the province of Bakool, residents state that it hasn’t rained since last October.
“Lack of food and water is our biggest challenge now,” says Bakool Commissioner, Mohamed Abdi Mohamed. “Food is too expensive even for those with money. The town is under a blockade.”
Since al-Shabab began erecting blockades, prices for food and other basic necessities have more than tripled. This has caused many to plunge further into poverty and over a million people have been forced to leave their homes. A large number of people have set out in search of food and water themselves, though, with the continuous drought, many have died along the way. Others have transferred to refugee camps where they often receive little to no assistance.
Rebels have intercepted food deliveries intended for thousands of starving people in Somalia. They are currently keeping food products locked away in warehouses in the capital city of Mogadishu. Now, the only way that relief services are able to reach people in these areas is through deliveries of airlifted goods. Though this form of distribution is costly, many international organizations are doing their best to continue relief services.
An estimated 1.6 billion dollars is needed to save the 2.9 million lives at stake. As of yet, only half of this amount as been reached. The UN is currently urging international aid groups and individuals to raise awareness of the situation and to help in funding relief efforts.
– Meagan Douches
Sources: The Guardian, The Huffington Post, UN