Widespread Famine in Somalia as a Result of Drought and Political Instability

Al-Shabab left Mogadishu on Saturday, but why? Refugees are pouring into Somalia’s capital, as many as 100,000 people over the past two months. These refugees are searching for food. The BBC reports, 11 million people are impacted by drought in the Horn of Africa.

The UN is airlifting relief into Mogadishu, since the threat from the Islamist al-Shahab has subsided (perhaps, only temporarily). A load of blankets, sleeping mats, and plastic sheeting for shelters made it safely Monday afternoon at the Mogadishu airport.

mogadishu relief

Although al-Shabab has temporarily departed, Will Ross, East Africa correspondent for the BBC, is reporting that pro-government militiamen stole food from a large refugee camp last week.

The Somalian government is weak, unstable, and corrupt, and this explains why al-Shabab has been successful in gaining control of the country. The political situation in Somalia has made it difficult for reporters to let the world know how wide-spread the starvation is.

The amount of donations has been well off previous levels also. Documentation through photographs has been lacking. Photographs of starving children help to increase amounts of donations to the U.N. To compound the problem, the UNHCR is having difficulty getting the relief to the people in need.

To gauge the severity of the drought and its resulting starvation, since there’s no significant crop harvest of wheat and maize, the UN has identified five famine zones that affect 3.2 million people. This is half the population of Somalia.

Somalia has been without a stable government for 20 years now. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in January of 1991. Al-Shabab has gained control of southern Somalia and has been more successful than a weaker UN-backed government.

The drought has caused massive migrations to Kenya, Ethiopia, and north to the capital city of Mogadishu. The situation is not much better in these other countries. With populations doubling in the Horn of Africa over the past 30 or 40 years, the effects of this drought is much more devastating.

It is being called “the worst drought in north-east Africa for 60 years.” (BBC News – Horn of Africa drought: Why is Somalia worst affected?) Again, why is the drought so bad at this exact time? Is it a play out of Global Warming?

I believe it is. The severity of these problems in the Horn of Africa requires some review of the history of this region. I will link you to an article that appeared in the Guardian yesterday (Hunger pains: famine in the Horn of Africa by Xan Rice). The droughts are getting worse there.

Hunger pains: famine in the Horn of Africa by Xan Rice