tagged w/ Somalia
Amid the graves of Somalia's children
Burying a child: A mother's unending grief
Sanjay Gupta MD
By Sanjay Gupta, M.D., Chief Medical Correspondent
August 11, 2011 11:25 a.m. EDT
Fight to save Somali kids
Gupta's visit with Somalian refugees brings disturbing memories
He recalls the grieving mother of a boyhood friend who died
Thousands of Somalian parents have buried their children this summer
Editor's note: Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes you deep inside the misery of the largest refugee camp in the world, "SGMD," Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET
Dadaab, Kenya (CNN) --
When I was in the third grade, a classmate of mine died of leukemia. None of us knew he was sick, only that his mother hadn't let him attend school in a while.
More than 30 years later, I still remember the awful day my mom told me my friend had passed away. I made a card for his mother, and walked to their house to deliver it. She was too overcome to take any visitors, but thanked me and took the card. I can recall her broken up face when she shut the door.
Over time we lost touch, but during the holidays a couple of years ago, I stopped by her home to pay a visit. She recognized me right away, smiled and invited me in for a cup of coffee. And then, while hanging my jacket, she began to tremble and cry.
So many years later, the sorrow was just under the surface. The experience left an indelible impression on me, one that I better understood after becoming a parent myself. It violates a natural order of life to bury your own child, and I am not sure the grief ever goes away.
That's the position 30,000 Somali parents found themselves in this summer. And, 600,000 more children may be buried before the end of the year. In just about any other place on Earth, those numbers would scream out from international headlines, but not here in East Africa.
Inside the Dadaab Refugee Camp, a mass burial site sits within walking distance of the close cluster of tents. Amin Hassan took me to see the tiny burial site of her 1-month old daughter, Addison.
It was nearly lost among all the other shallow, hastily dug graves. Small sticks mark these raised plots of dirt with nothing else except bits of colored plastic trash stuck in the ground and blowing in the wind.
There are no nameplates, no flowers and no reminders of their lives. People here just vanish.
"She was perfectly healthy when she arrived," Amin told me.
They had left Somalia in search of food and water, and felt relief when they finally reached the camp. It may have been contaminated water that caused little Addison's intractable diarrhea and vomiting or an overwhelming infection.
Pertussis or whooping cough is something they see quite often here. "And measles," one of the doctors told me.
Many of these infections are wildly contagious, especially among the hundreds of thousands of un-vaccinated kids in these camps.
As I stood and spoke to Hassan, with all those tiny burial sites around us, I couldn't help but think of my friend and his mother. I thought of that unnatural order of parents burying their children.
I thought about Hassan's lifelong grief.
Amin Hassan dug the grave for her daughter by herself.
.Amid the graves of Somalia's children CNN... . Burying a child: A... more
While the world's attention this week has been focused on the global economic impact of the U.S. debt ceiling deal, credit downgrade and subsequent market woes, the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa continues to deteriorate.
Children are dying at an alarming rate.
The United States estimates that as many as 29,000 Somali children died just in the last 90 days.
Three more areas in Southern Somalia have been added to the famine zone and the UN warns that without urgent intervention all of Southern Somalia will be engulfed in famine, resulting in the likelihood of tens of thousands of Somalis literally starving to death.
There have also been hopeful developments.
The retreat of the Al Qaeda-backed group Al Shabab from Mogadishu means that aid groups will have an easier time reaching the more than 500,000 people living either near or inside the capital city suffering from famine.
It's also significant progress for the current weak central government being backed by African Union troops.
For four years the fiercest battles for the soul of the country have taken place in Mogadishu.
"We have been dreaming of this day for more than three years," Somalia's Prime Minister Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said in a statement."This is a big day, and a tremendous step forward, towards a more stable Somalia. By their actions in the past hours the extremists have shown that they never had a place in a peaceful Somalia...And the people do not want them here," he said.
Virtually no one believes the retreat will be permanent, a point punctuated by an Al Shabab spokesperson who called the pull-out a "tactical" decision and told reporters the group will continue to fight the government and AU troops using guerilla warfare.
"We shall fight the enemy wherever they are," Ali Mohamed Rage, reportedly told a local radio station. He also emphasized the militant group will be tightening its control in Southern Somalia, where Shabab rules unabated.
But even within the Islamist insurgency there remains a long-standing conflict within the leadership made up of mostly foreign Al Qaeda fighters, who want Shabab to play a bigger role in waging global jihad and Somali clan leaders who want to keep the movement Somalia-focused, defeating the current government and AU forces and impose strict sharia law.
The confusion over whether the militants will allow foreign aid agenciesto operate in areas they control has highlighted the rift, with some local clan leaders insisting that they won't let their people starve.
Some humanitarian organizations like UNICEF are already operating in Shabab-controlled areas, and more aid agencies are working on getting access to the most needy.
More at the link.While the world's attention this week has been focused on the global economic... more
One of the saddest clips out of the Horn of Africa. These foreign journalists entered Somalia and broke down in tears. The region already gripped by decades of war is suffering a major famine.One of the saddest clips out of the Horn of Africa. These foreign journalists entered... more
It is always the children who are the victims of the world adults create and it is the greatest injustice. War ravages this region as it has for years it's affects now exacerbated by a drought the likes of which has been unseen for decades exacerbated as is the war by human behavior which was totally preventable. I know it is a place where terrorism thrives. I know it is a place where corruption and lawlessness thrive. And it is a poor area of the world seen as expendable as noted by the many hateful comments I have read from people on other news sites, some of which absolutely stunned me. However, it is also a place where humanity must thrive in order to spare a worse catastrophe.
As 12 million people most of them children face certain death if they get no help, we on this side of the world will throw out tons of uneaten wasted food without a thought. We will continue to be absorbed in our diversions that give us pleasure with little thought to what may be going on outside of our own worlds. And we will find some reason, any reason at all to dismiss the urgency of this drought war and ensuing famine to not have to do something no matter how small it may be to at least save one life.
These children did nothing to anyone. They are products of a world not of their creation. And they are also human beings like all of us who deserve to live life with hope. We must strip away all of the political, religious and ideological obstacles that prevent us from being human now. This is a humanitarian catastrophe of untold proportions and I simply cannot believe that the world willl sit by and allow these people to die. It is truly outrageous that geopolitics and foreign policy must always become more important than simply saving a human life.
Of course, the problems here go much deeper and will not be solved with just a 10 dollar donation to MSF to give them plumpy nut. This however is part of a greater war we now fight. A war against ignorance, hatred and intolerance. If we could only grasp how opening our hearts could release so many from the fear that grips our world and just look at the human beings in front of us we could solve anything. Right now however, these children need our help. Please do so if you haven't already. Humanity won't stand a chance if we can't be human, at least this once.It is always the children who are the victims of the world adults create and it is the... more
FAMINE! | Humans Dying as Insurgents Block Escape | Millions Facing Starvation | Tens of Thousands Have Already Died.
Somalis Waste Away as Insurgents Block Escape From Famine
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
Published: August 1, 2011
PHOTO: A malnourished child at Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. More than 500,000 Somali children are verging on starvation.
Amid Famine, Dangers Hinder Aid to Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia — The Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory.
Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
The group is widely blamed for causing a famine in Somalia by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food. The situation is growing bleaker by the day, with tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation.
Every morning, emaciated parents with emaciated children stagger into Banadir Hospital, a shell of a building with floors that stink of diesel fuel because that is all the nurses have to fight off the flies. Babies are dying because of the lack of equipment and medicine. Some get hooked up to adult-size intravenous drips — pediatric versions are hard to find — and their compromised bodies cannot handle the volume of fluid.
Most parents do not have money for medicine, so entire families sit on old-fashioned cholera beds, with basketball-size holes cut out of the middle, taking turns going to the bathroom as diarrhea streams out of them.
“This is worse than 1992,” said Dr. Lul Mohamed, Banadir’s head of pediatrics, referring to Somalia’s last famine. “Back then, at least we had some help.”
Aid groups are trying to scale up their operations, and the United Nations has begun airlifting emergency food. But many seasoned aid officials are speaking in grim tones because one of Africa’s worst humanitarian disasters in decades has struck one of the most inaccessible countries on earth. Somalia, especially the southern third where the famine is, has been considered a no-go zone for years, a lawless caldron that has claimed the lives of dozens of aid workers, peacekeepers and American soldiers, going back to the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993, spelling a legacy that has scared off many international organizations.
“If this were Haiti, we would have dozens of people on the ground by now,” said Eric James, an official with the American Refugee Committee, a private aid organization.
But Somalia is considered more dangerous and anarchic than Haiti, Iraq or even Afghanistan, and the American Refugee Committee, like other aid groups, is struggling to get trained personnel here.
“It is safe to say that many people are going to die as a result of little or no access,” Mr. James said.
This leaves millions of famished Somalis with two choices, aside from fleeing the country to neighboring Kenya or Ethiopia, where there is more assistance. They can beg for help from a weak and divided transitional government in Mogadishu, the capital. Just the other day there was a shootout between government forces at the gates of the presidential palace. “Things happen,” was the response of Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Somalia’s new prime minister.
Or they can remain in territory controlled by the Shabab, who have pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda and have tried to rid their areas of anything Western — Western music, Western dress, even Western aid groups during a time of famine.
.. Somalis Waste Away as Insurgents Block Escape From Famine By JEFFREY... more
Remember when that crazy post-911 American society stigmatized French fries to such a degree that people either boycotted restaurants like McDonald's and Burger King (but boy, not for long!) or they instead convinced themselves they were eating Freedom fries?
http://deardirtyamerica.blogspot.com/2011/07/al-shabab-bans-samosas-remember-when.htmlRemember when that crazy post-911 American society stigmatized French fries to such a... more
Somalis flee famine along ‘roads of death’
Japanese music festivals ready to rock out post-disaster blues
Vatican recalls envoy to Ireland over priest abuse scandalSomalis flee famine along ‘roads of death’ Japanese music festivals ready... more
U.N. declares famine in southern Somalia
By Robyn Dixon | 2:19 p.m.
To declare a famine, child malnutrition must be at 30% or higher, daily deaths at two per 10,000 people and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities.
U.N. declares famine in southern Somalia
Famine, a highly technical term, means that the rate of child malnutrition and deaths in two areas of southern Somalia, a country riven by fighting and drought, has risen. Agencies appeal for aid.
PHOTO: Eleven-month-old Abdifatah Hassan, suffering from severe malnutrition, is cared for at a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders at a camp housing Somali refugees in Dadaab, Kenya. The United Nations officially declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia, saying child malnutrition rates exceed 30% and as many as six children age 5 or younger are dying daily. The region is suffering its worst drought in 60 years and tens of thousands are feared dead.
(Roberto Schmidt / AFP/Getty Images / July 4, 2011)
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
July 20, 2011, 2:19 p.m.
Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa—
For months, people have been trudging out of the desert, leaving their dead children behind and carrying those who have managed to survive. On Wednesday, the horror of hunger and death unfolding in the Horn of Africa officially got a name: famine.
It's actually a very technical term — unless you're one of those walking for weeks in a last-ditch hope to save your family.
For the United Nations to declare a famine, as it did at a news conference in Nairobi, child malnutrition must be at 30% or higher, daily deaths at two per 10,000 people and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities.
According to Unicef, the U.N. agency that focuses on children, the rate of child malnutrition rate in southern Somalia has doubled in a single month; in some places it has reached 55% and infant deaths have increased to six per day.
Yet the global response has been dismal. An appeal late last year for $535 million to address the need is still more than $250 million short. Officials hope the famine declaration will help focus global attention on the Horn of Africa.
Across the country, about 3.7 million people, half the population, are facing starvation, with an estimated 2.8 million of them in the south. The agency says another 6.3 million in other countries in the Horn of Africa affected by hunger.
It's the worst African hunger crisis in 20 years, according the Rozanne Chorlton, Unicef's representative on Somalia. The last time things were this dire in Africa was 1991. Then, as now, it was in Somalia.
The U.N. famine declaration Wednesday formally covered two regions of southern Somalia, Bakool and Lower Shabelle, where farmers' crops failed and their livestock died. Malnutrition rates exceed 30% and more than six children age 5 or younger are dying daily in some areas. But in coming months, neighboring regions will inevitably fall into famine too, said Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia.
U.N. and non-governmental agencies are appealing for $300 million in the next two months to increase their operations in the worst-hit areas.
If it seems extraordinary that millions of Africans can be facing starvation in 2011, despite the focus of a raft of humanitarian agencies and their early-warning networks, it is, Bowden said.
Part of the problem is that many donors had written off Somalia as too hard, he said in a telephone interview. Aid agencies must grapple with a long-running civil conflict and Somalia's extremist Shabab militia, which controls much of the south, where the worst hunger is.
"We have good warning systems, but we don't always listen to them, particularly if we put some countries in the too-difficult-to-deal-with basket," Bowden said.
Two decades with no government and the failure of successive efforts to restore peace have left donors cynical. The country's global reputation for piracy and mayhem have done it no favors.
The 1991 Somalia famine occurred after civil war destroyed agriculture and clan warlords hijacked humanitarian aid, leading to the U.S.-led Operation Restore Hope. That resulted in bloody fighting with militias in Mogadishu portrayed in the book and film "Black Hawk Down."
But Bowden, who recently met Somali refugees walking to Ethiopia, said the problem today was mainly one of successive drought, compounded by global warming.
"They are victims of drought. They are also victims of climate change. They're people who have lost everything after years of successive drought."
The situation is complicated by the Shabab, which in the past has imposed informal taxes on humanitarian agencies, limited their access, and demanded they send female staff home. The World Food Program withdrew early last year from areas controlled by the Shabab because of security threats and unacceptable working conditions. It recently announced it would resume it work there if conditions allowed.
Aid agencies have been negotiating access with local leaders, but security remains uncertain.
"We need predictability," Unicef's Chorlton said in a telephone interview. "The important thing is that those who are there [in Somalia] should be able to act unhindered to deliver the services to children and families that are so desperately needed."
Unicef has doubled its food, health and water programs in Somalia, she said.
"Somalis have always helped each other to cope in times of crisis, and they have been incredibly resilient over the years. I think what has not been quantified is that people's resistance has been so undermined over the last year, it's no longer adequate to the task," she said. "The issue is now we need donors to massively increase their contribution."
.U.N. declares famine in southern Somalia By Robyn Dixon | 2:19 p.m. To declare... more
TLM discusses what the UNs definition of famine is and why Somalia's classification as a 'failed state' hinders humanitarian efforts and worsens the crisis there.
http://theliberalmob.blogspot.com/2011/07/famine-on-horn-of-africa-and-why-it.htmlTLM discusses what the UNs definition of famine is and why Somalia's... more
The United Nations is set to declare a famine in parts of Somalia as it suffers the worst drought in more than half a century.
link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14211905The United Nations is set to declare a famine in parts of Somalia as it suffers the... more
I keep trying to have hope that the right thing will be done here and in all places where such harsh conditions exist. For this is a primer to a world of climate change/biodistress and it is one in which what we see now is exactly what has been predicted by climate scientists for years. Should these lands be rendered uninhabitable where would these millions of people go? How would they be provided for? We already know the answer to this and it is a totally inhumane, unconscienable and unacceptable answer.
And I know I have posted about this several times in the last week. And that's because it's that important.
And let me also add that we alll know droughts happen in Africa. The difference now is the scope, pace, severity and patterns which can be seen now, especially by those who live in these areas and know the land.
All information posted so far on this drought can be found here.I keep trying to have hope that the right thing will be done here and in all places... more
In 1984, a Kenyan photographer and cameraman named Mohamed Amin shocked the world into action with his images of famine victims in Ethiopia.
Africa battles worst drought in 60 years, aid agencies warn
Today, 15 years after he was tragically killed in the crash of a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight off the Comoros Islands, famine once again stalks the Horn of Africa, threatening the lives of 10 million people in what the USAid-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net) describes as one of the world’s most severe food security emergencies.
Perhaps no country in the region is as badly affected as Somalia. The Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) estimates that 2.85 million people — a third of the population — are now in humanitarian crisis and in need of urgent assistance, an increase of 42.5 per cent over the figure in December 2010. “We are no longer on the verge of a humanitarian disaster; we are in the middle of it now,” Isaq Ahmed, the chairman of the Mubarak Relief and Development Organisation, a local NGO working in the south of the country, told IRIN on June 28. “It is happening and no one is helping.”
Indeed, the numbers coming out of Somalia paint a terrible picture of a population caught in a perfect storm of calamities: A two-decade long brutal conflict that has seen the country play host to one of the largest displaced populations in the world; the worst drought in a generation has precipitated a sharp decline in food production; rising food prices mean that even the little available is out of reach of the impoverished population; and funding shortfalls for relief agencies resulting from a faltering global economy.
The prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under five years is an objective crisis indicator, reflecting the wider situation of emergency affected populations, including their food security, livelihoods, public health and social environment, say Helen Young and Susanne Jaspars in their paper The Meaning and Measurement of Acute Malnutrition in Emergencies: A Primer For Decision-makers.
According to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 75 per cent of the estimated 241,000 malnourished children in Somalia reside in the volatile southern regions where the country’s internationally recognised Transitional Federal Government is battling a brutal insurgency in the latest iteration of the country’s 20-year civil war. In some of these areas, 1 in 3 children is malnourished, more than double the emergency threshold of 15 per cent.
In August 2010, the national level of acute malnutrition was 15.2 per cent with 16.6 per cent in the south. Five months later the situation had deteriorated in most parts of the country and a national rate of 16 per cent was reported, with 25 per cent in the south. Assessments conducted in April 2011 confirmed a sustained crisis. Complicating the situation in the south even further, Al Qaeda-linked extremist insurgents continue to bar international humanitarian agencies from access to the needy populations, accusing them of promulgating Christianity and Western ideology.
The conflict has also created huge numbers of internally displaced persons. Since January, the UN estimates the drought has added a further 55,000. These are most often the poorest of the poor and it is no coincidence, therefore, that they are suffering disproportionately. While a third of the general population is in crisis, the ratio among IDPs is twice that. In February, 910,000, or 62 per cent of the country’s 146,000 IDPs, were identified by FSNAU as being in crisis. The situation is now driving more people to flee the country altogether, many of them having to walk for up to a month to reach refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
At the Daadab refugee camp in Kenya, the largest in the world, about 1,300 Somalis are arriving every day, nearly two-thirds of them children. “Nearly every child or parent we have spoken to says they are not just fleeing fighting in Somalia — the drought and food crisis are equally perilous to them now,” Catherine Fitzgibbon, Save the Children’s Kenya programme director, told the BBC.
more at the linkIn 1984, a Kenyan photographer and cameraman named Mohamed Amin shocked the world into... more
The persistent and severe drought in Somalia and Kenya has led to people walking for almost two weeks in search of food and water and a place to stay. Refugee camps are full and the situation is serious. Only now is the international community seeing the humanitarian disaster unfolding here due not only to the severe drought caused by successive yearly failures of the rains, but a war raging on that has used religious intolerance as an excuse for Al Shabaab to turn away their own people. It is unconscienable to do this, especially to children. My hope is that aid can reach them in time to save more lives as we are now seeing more graves being dug on the outskirts of the camps. As climate change and its effects worsen in these areas of the world, we as a species will have to reassess our priorities from placing religious intolerance and politics above humanity in order for us to survive.The persistent and severe drought in Somalia and Kenya has led to people walking for... more
...that there is a difference between "reasonable doubt" versus "a reason to doubt." I think herein lies the rub. The jury was given many reasons to doubt each piece of evidence....that there is a difference between "reasonable doubt" versus "a... more
The levels of malnutrition among children fleeing Somalia's drought could lead to a "human tragedy of unimaginable proportions", the UN refugee head Antonio Guterres has said.
Young children are dying on their way to or within a day of arrival at camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, the UNHCR says.
It estimates that a quarter of Somalis are either displaced within the country or living outside as refugees.
The worst drought in 60 years has been compounded by the violence in Somalia.
"It's so extreme," said UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming. "Our people are saying they've never seen anything like it."
The warning comes as the UK aid agencies Oxfam, Save the Children, and the Red Cross launch emergency appeals in response to the food crisis which is affecting more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa.
The agencies are collectively asking for nearly $150m (£93m).
The UNHCR says the need for food, shelter, health services and other life saving aid is urgent and massive.
The agency says more than 50% of Somali children arriving in Ethiopia are seriously malnourished. In Kenya, that figure is between 30% and 40%.
"What is the most tragic for us to witness, is that there are children who do arrive in such a weakened state that despite our emergency care and therapeutic feeding, they're dying within 24 hours," Ms Fleming told a press briefing in Geneva.
"We estimate that one quarter of Somalia's 7.5 million people are now either internally displaced or are living outside the country as refugees," she said.
The UNHCR recently opened a third camp in south-eastern Ethiopia, which is quickly reaching its capacity of 20,000, and is now planning further camps.
A relief plane chartered by the agency is flying to Addis Ababa on Tuesday and a convoy of 20 trucks carrying tents and other aid is on its way as well.
In north-east Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, some 1,400 refugees are arriving every day. Aid agencies fear numbers could rise to half a million.
Badu Katelo, Kenya's Commissioner for Refugee Affairs, said food and water distribution, shelter and space were all over stretched and that the security situation was getting worse.
"We would like to see a vibrant, committed intervention from the international community," he said.
More at the linkThe levels of malnutrition among children fleeing Somalia's drought could lead to... more
UN says that more than 10 million people are affected in areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda
The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations has said.
More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, it said.
"Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told a media briefing. "There is no likelihood of improvement until 2012".
Food prices have risen substantially in the region, pushing many moderately poor households over the edge.
A UN map of food security in the eastern Horn of Africa shows large swathes of central Kenya and Somalia in the emergency category, one phase before what the UN classifies as catastrophe/famine – the fifth and worst category.
Child malnutrition rates in the worst affected areas are more than double the emergency threshold of 15 per cent and are expected to rise further. High mortality rates among children are also reported.
Drought and fighting are driving ever greater numbers of Somalis from their homeland, with more than 20,000 arriving in Kenya in just the past two weeks, the UN refuge agency UNHCR said on Friday. It voiced alarm at the dramatic rise, noting the average monthly outflow had been about 10,000 so far this year.
Almost half the Somali children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia are malnourished, and those arriving in Kenya are little better, Byrs said.
UN humanitarian appeals for Somalia and Kenya, each about $525m, are barely 50 per cent funded, while a $30m appeal for Djibouti is just 30 per cent funded, she said.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/28/africa-drought-kenya-somalia-famineUN says that more than 10 million people are affected in areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia,... more
The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, it said.
"Two consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in one of the driest years since 1950/51 in many pastoral zones," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told a media briefing.
"There is no likelihood of improvement (in the situation)until 2012," she said.
Food prices have risen substantially in the region, pushing many moderately poor households over the edge, she said.
A U.N. map of food security in the eastern Horn of Africa shows large swathes of central Kenya and Somalia in the "emergency" category, one phase before what the U.N. classifies as catastrophe/famine -- the fifth and worst category.
Child malnutrition rates in the worst affected areas are more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent and are expected to rise further, Byrs said.
High mortality rates among children are reported, but she had no figures for the toll.
Drought and fighting are driving ever greater numbers of Somalis from their homeland, with more than 20,000 arriving in Kenya in just the past two weeks, the U.N. refuge agency UNHCR said on Friday. It voiced alarm at the dramatic rise, noting the average monthly outflow had been about 10,000 so far this year.
Almost half the Somali children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia are malnourished, and those arriving in Kenya are little better, Byrs said.
U.N. humanitarian appeals for Somalia and Kenya, each about $525 million, are barely 50 percent funded, while a $30 million appeal for Djibouti is just 30 percent funded, she said.The worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis... more
Afghanistan 'most dangerous place for women'
Survey says war-torn nation worst place for women while Congo, which has "horrific levels of rape", is ranked second.
Afghanistan has been ranked as the world's most dangerous country for women, with Congo taking a close second position, a Thomson Reuters Foundation expert poll has said.
Violence, dismal healthcare and brutal poverty afflicts women in Afghanistan, while in Congo there are horrific levels of rape, the survey conducted by TrustLaw, an arm of Thomson Reuters, said on Wednesday.
Pakistan, India and Somalia ranked third, fourth and fifth respectively in the global survey of perceptions of threats ranging from domestic abuse and economic discrimination to female foeticide, genital mutilation and acid attacks.
"Ongoing conflict, NATO airstrikes and cultural practices combined make Afghanistan a very dangerous place for women," Antonella Notari, head of women change makers, a group that supports women social entrepreneurs around the world, said.
The survey asked 213 gender experts from five continents to rank countries by overall perceptions of danger as well as by six risks. The risks were health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking.
Some experts said the poll showed that subtle dangers such as discrimination that don't grab headlines are sometimes just as significant risks for women as bombs, bullets, stonings and systematic rape in conflict zones.
"I think you have to look at all the dangers to women, all the risks women and girls face," Elisabeth Roesch, who works on gender-based violence for the International Rescue Committee in Washington, said.
"If a woman can't access healthcare because her healthcare isn't prioritised, that can be a very dangerous situation as well."
Afghanistan emerged as the most dangerous country for women overall and worst in three of the six risk categories: health, non-sexual violence and lack of access to economic resources.
Respondents cited sky-high maternal mortality rates, limited access to doctors and a near total lack of economic rights.
Afghan women have a one in 11 chance of dying in childbirth, according to UNICEF.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), still reeling from a 1998-2003 war and accompanying humanitarian disaster that killed 5.4m people, came second mainly due to staggering levels of sexual violence in the lawless east.
More than 400,000 women are raped in the country each year, according to a recent study by US researchers. The United Nations has called Congo the rape capital of the world.
"Statistics from DRC are very revealing on this: ongoing war, use of rape as a weapon, recruitment of females as soldiers who are also used as sex slaves," Clementina Cantoni, a Pakistan-based aid worker with ECHO, the European Commission's humanitarian aid department, said.
"The fact that the government is corrupt and that female rights are very low on the agenda means that there is little or no recourse to justice."
Rights activists say militia groups and soldiers target all ages, including girls as young as three and elderly women. They are gang-raped, raped with bayonets and have guns shot into their vaginas.
Pakistan ranked third largely on the basis of cultural, tribal and religious practices harmful to women. These include acid attacks, child and forced marriage and punishment or retribution by stoning or other physical abuse.
"Pakistan has some of the highest rates of dowry murder, so-called honour killings and early marriage," Divya Bajpai, reproductive health advisor at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, said.
Some 1,000 women and girls die in honour killings annually, according to Pakistan's Human Rights Commission.
Trafficking of women
India ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking.
In 2009, India's then-Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta estimated that 100m people, mostly women and girls, were involved in trafficking in India that year.
"The practice is common but lucrative so it goes untouched by government and police," Cristi Hegranes, founder of the Global Press institute, which trains women in developing countries to be journalists, said.
India's Central Bureau of Investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90 per cent of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3m prostitutes, of which about 40 per cent were children.
In addition to sex slavery, other forms of trafficking include forced labour and forced marriage, according to a US state department report on trafficking in 2010. The report also found slow progress in criminal prosecutions of traffickers.
Up to 50m girls are thought to be "missing" over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide, the UN Population Fund said.
Some experts said the world's largest democracy was relatively forthcoming about describing its problems, possibly casting it in a darker light than if other countries were equally transparent about trafficking.
Somalia ranked fifth due to a catalogue of dangers including high maternal mortality, rape and female genital mutilation, along with limited access to education, healthcare and economic resources.
"I'm completely surprised because I thought Somalia would be first on the list, not fifth," Maryan Qasim, the Somali women's minister said.
"The most dangerous thing a woman in Somalia can do is to become pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant her life is 50-50 because there is no antenatal care at all. There are no hospitals, no healthcare, no nothing.
"Add to that the rape cases that happen on a daily basis, the female genital mutilation that is being done to every single girl in Somalia. Add to that the famine and the drought. Add to that the fighting (which means) you can die any minute, any day."
Poll respondents included aid professionals, academics, health workers, policymakers, journalists and development specialists.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/06/201161582525243992.htmlAfghanistan 'most dangerous place for women' Survey says war-torn nation... more
What does the world think? Obama has been using air strikes and drones against civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and probably Somalia. In his March 28 speech, Obama justified his air strikes against Libya on the grounds that the embattled ruler, Gadhafi, was using air strikes to put down a rebellion.
Gadhafi has been a black hat for as long as I can remember. If we believe the adage that “where there is smoke there is fire,” Gadhafi is probably not a nice fellow. However, there is no doubt whatsoever that the current US president and the predecessor Bush/Cheney regime have murdered many times more people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than Gadhafi has murdered in Libya.
Moreover, Gadhafi is putting down a rebellion against state authority as presently constituted, but Obama and Bush/Cheney initiated wars of aggression based entirely on lies and deception.
Yet Gadhafi is being demonized, and Bush/Cheney/Obama are sitting on their high horse draped in cloaks of morality. Obama described himself as saving Libyans from violence while Obama himself murders Afghans, Pakistanis, and whomever else.
Indeed, the Obama regime has been torturing a US soldier, Bradley Manning, for having a moral conscience. America has degenerated to the point where having a moral conscience is evidence of anti-Americanism and “terrorist activity.”What does the world think? Obama has been using air strikes and drones against... more