More than 300 000 children in Somalia may starve to death if humanitarian aid does not reach them soon.
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guteress has warned that Somalia is teetering on the brink of a famine and called on donors to provide urgent assistance to end their suffering.
Close to 1 000 people have died in the country following an outbreak of cholera.
At the Bay Regional Hospital in South Western Somalia, Adega Hassan looks over her last born son, from the look in her eyes she is clinging onto hope.
Hope because in the last one week, 38 people have died as a result of cholera, a disease caused by eating contaminated food and water.
Hassan says, “Where I came from, there is no water, there is no food, our animals have died due to lack of water. Many people have been forced to move, we walked for several days to reach here.”
In the same hospital, the new United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guteress came face to face with what he called “a nightmare” of the prolonged drought.
Children are too weak to even let out a cry and mothers desperate for humanitarian assistance.
“Every single person we have seen is a personal story of tremendous suffering, there is no way to describe it.”
Nurse at Bay Regional Hospital Ahmed Mohamed Ali says it is bad especially in the south west state.
“There are many children; they are suffering from malnutrition and severe malnutrition even.”
The humanitarian crisis in Somalia follows the failure of two rain seasons last year, as a well a long running conflict in the horn of Africa nation.
The al Shabaab militant group has made it difficult for aid agencies to reach those affected by the drought many have now camped in makeshift tents in Baidoa hoping to get assistance, little has reached them.
Mohammed Noor Ahmed Ali says, “In my former village, even if you get some food aid the al Shabaab militants grab it from you, I don’t have anything to eat, we are yet to receive help.”
We have 333 000 children that are acutely malnourished and they risk going up to a million if there is not enough support to stop it
The UN has made an appeal for $825 million dollars to assist in responding to the food crisis for the first half of this year.
Donor has only contributed $105M. Now Somalia is on the brink of a famine.
Guteress says, “We have 333 000 children that are acutely malnourished and they risk going up to a million if there is not enough support to stop it.”
At least 13 million people in East Africa are faced with starvation, South Sudan has declared a famine in one of the states battered by more than two years of war and the UN insists a famine in Somalia is preventable if help comes fast.
– By Sarah Kimani