In Somalia, the threat of famine is exacerbated by the war in Ukraine

More than 100 kilometers now separate Jaamac Soomane Buraale from his original village. For five years, this father has been sleeping in a tent in a camp for the displaced near Garowe in northern Somalia. Dehydration and starvation pushed him on the road to displacement with his wife and four children. “In our village, we can no longer get food”Says the 50-year-old goat farmer on the phone with the help of a translator, Action Against Hunger.

in Garowe, “It’s a little better”However, recent price hikes keep the family food insecure. “Sometimes I can’t buy enough food for everyone. Sometimes, twice a week, we have to leave food for the kids.” Last month, 5.2 million Somalis, or a third of the population, were acutely food insecure. By September, there could be 7.1 million people, including 2.1 million in emergency situations, according to a food security baseline analysis*.

Somalia on the brink of famine.

Petroc Wilson, spokesperson for the World Food Program in Somalia

in franceinfo

After years of drought linked to climate change, inflation, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, is raising the risk of famine in Somalia every day. “In some areas, prices have more than doubled over the past few months.”Petroc Wilson testifies.

A Somali child displaced by drought walks next to the carcasses of dead goats from hunger and thirst near Dolo, Somalia, April 14, 2022. (SOPA IMAGES/SIPA/SALLY HAYDEN)

In southern Somalia, Sami Aden Abdi lives with her two children and three grandchildren in one of 3,600 makeshift tents in a camp for the displaced near Bardera. Eight months ago, the family traveled 85 kilometers to escape drought and violence from the Islamist terrorist group Al-Shabab. Sami Aden Abdi says he has lost nearly 200 goats and 10 cattle due to the drought. Animals are as essential to their survival as their crops. Corn, beans, sorghum… These crops supported and nourished the family, “It hasn’t happened in nearly four years.”, Emphasizes. The Somali woman and her relatives ate a little, once or twice a day, with the help of their community. One of his sons did not survive.

Somalia is now experiencing a drought that started at the end of 2020. The harvests were very low or none and more than three million head of livestock died a year, such as the Sami. In the area where it is particularly affected, “Two farming communities saw their river completely dry up.”Explains Fatuma Issa, project manager for Sado, which works on food security in the region. “They had never seen this before in their lives.”

Sami Aden Abdi at Iftin camp in Bardera region (Somalia), June 14, 2022 (SADO SOMALIA / FRANCEINFO)

Many had no choice but to exile. As such, 700,000 people have fled drought in less than a year. These exiles “Too thin, weak”refers to Fatuma Issa. “One mother told me she could go a day on the road without eating. A family has lost two children like that.” Desperate drought victims head to the city’s resources, like Bardera. From now on, Sami is totally dependent on helping the residents get food.

“So I survive by begging.”

Sami Aden Abdi, a Somali IDP in Bardera

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A day before that, the Somali woman received a kilo of rice and then a kilo of corn. kilograms to feed six people.

In the Jaamac camp, near Garowe, two mothers, Xaawo Ciise Axmed and Basro Cali Xaashi, in turn recount how they survived. With humanitarian aid, they can access Action Against Hunger’s cash transfer program: $80 per month to buy food.

With such circumstance, Xaawo, a few months ago, had enough to buy rice, cooking oil, and “Sometimes even vegetables like tomatoes or onions”. But with the outbreak of war in Ukraine, she and her family noticed the rising market prices.

“Month to month, sometimes day to day, prices are never the same.”

Zawu, a displaced Somali woman in Garowe

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In this sense, Somalia is one of the African countries most dependent on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia: 68.5% of the wheat consumed comes from Ukraine.

A mother prepares tea at a camp for the displaced in Baidoa (Somalia), February 14, 2022 (YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)

Before the conflict, 25 kilograms of wheat flour cost $12.5 in Somalia, according to data provided by the NGO Save the Children. Today, you have to pay $18 to get the same amount.

“It is not scarcity that causes people to starve to death, it is the explosion in prices that makes products unavailable to millions of Somalis.”

Jean-François Rivaud, Director General of Action Against Hunger

in franceinfo

Other products are also affected by this price increase, which varies widely locally. in Garowe district, “Before the conflict in Ukraine, a 1kg portion of rice cost me $0.5. Today, it costs me $1.5”, bears witness to Xaawo, a mother of six children. Faced with this inflation, Xaawo and Basro are forced to deny themselves.

“We can only afford one meal a day that can feed the whole family. It’s not enough.”

Zawu, a displaced Somali woman in Garowe

in franceinfo

“Before, we could buy meat, milk or cereal but we had to stopBastro continues. Today, we are satisfied with more basic products such as rice, which makes our diet less diverse.”

And if the costs for the population increase, it also increases for the humanitarian aid organizations that attend the price hike without witnessing an increase in their funding. “A few months ago, we could give the family $70 to $100 a month for food. Today, we had to give them at least $150 to $200”explains Hajir Moallem, Regional Director of the Office of Action Against Hunger in East Africa. “These are resources we don’t have.”

In his eyes, those with a food crisis are “Victims of inattention since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, which led to delays in funding because Ukraine has priority”.

Without treatment, the effects of malnutrition on health are numerous and affect the immune system in particular. Our children often suffer from anemiaBastro explains. This year, I had to go to the camp health center at least three times because my children had the flu or other bacterial diseases.” The 35-year-old Somali woman, who had just given birth, said she had been afraid throughout her pregnancy when she was diagnosed. “low blood levels” where Heartbeat not working well.

Children who suffer from hunger, especially the young ones, ‘They are the most vulnerable’Bishara Suleiman, who is in charge of the Red Cross nutrition program in Somalia, confirms. Jacinta Akin, UNICEF Somalia Project Officer, supports her view: In the central and southern regions of Somalia, in June there Very high rates of malnutrition. Many areas have crossed the emergency threshold for malnutrition: more than 15% of children there are malnourished.”

A Somali woman and her 2-year-old child at the Baidoa Stabilization Centre, which treats severely malnourished children, on February 14, 2022 in Baidoa, Somalia.  & nbsp;  (Yasuishi Chiba/AFP)

In 30 years, Action Against Hunger has not seen so many people accepted into its centers in Somalia. Between January and April, the arrival of children with severe acute malnutrition increased by 55%* compared to the same period last year.

In these stabilization centers in Somalia, young patients have not been fed properly for weeks or even months. “The longer we wait, the more children will die of starvation.”Mahmoud Hassan, director of the NGO Save the Children Somalia, insists.

“Children are very weak. We see some of them die after a day in the centre.”

Mahmoud Hassan, Director of Save the Children in Somalia

in franceinfo

In the face of this influx, humanitarian organizations are calling for the help of the international community. by Mahmoud Hassan “this is unacceptable” To see such a situation, without “To be able to help everyone.”

* Links marked with an asterisk refer to articles in English.

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