Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eleven million at risk in horn of Africa

Denis Foynes in IPS: … The United Nations and humanitarian workers report that food insecurity is now at emergency levels across the Horn of Africa, affecting Kenya, Ethiopia and especially south Somalia, with 11 million people in dire need of emergency assistance due in part to a major prolonged drought.

"From our point of view, this is the worst drought we have seen in Africa since the 1950s, but it must be remembered that this is not the only factor that led to this level of crisis," Alun McDonald, media and communications officer for the Horn, East and Central Africa at Oxfam, explained to IPS.

"The effects of high staple food prices and the conflicts in the region over the last few decades have become all the more devastating due to the drought," said McDonald, who is based in Nairobi. "This combination has wreaked havoc in the region."

So dire is the situation that the Islamic terror group Al-Shabaab has lifted restrictions on foreign aid workers coming into the areas in Somalia they control. But many aid workers and agencies are wary of returning. For example, the U.N. World Food Programme states that it won't even consider returning to Al-Shabaab-controlled territory until after an 18-month absence.

Valerie Amos, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, spent two days in the region earlier this month. "I spoke with a woman who walked five hours with her children to get help," Amos said. "More and more children are malnourished. Livestock has died as has a way of life. People have lost everything."…

Locator map of the Horn of Africa by Maphobbyist, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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