The condition of Somalian peoples has been worsening over time, being particularly severe this fall. We’ve mentioned this a few times in prayer, but I think it’s necessary to give a more overarching story of what is actually happening in Somalia.
The first issue in Somalia is that they are in the midst of a severe drought. This drought is affecting their ability to produce food, as crops do not have enough water to grow. So, they don’t have enough water and not enough food. They are, in essence, starving.
“The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition,” she told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
This is almost double the rate at which a famine is declared.
“In total, 4 million people are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of death in the coming four months in the absence of adequate response,” the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) says.
Half of those who have already died are children, it says.
The Council on Foreign Relations reports why this extreme famine is not getting under control:
South-central Somalia is controlled by al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab is paranoid about international NGOs and a year ago, they banned aid agencies from helping people in that region. A lot of the crisis is attributable to the fact that many people whose situation was very vulnerable did not get adequate help in time. That is why you see this crisis has reached this level. Al-Shabaab appears to have recently backtracked on that ban, but it’s very difficult to tell who is in charge in al-Shabaab and very difficult to know their real motive. But you have flights going into Baidoa, which is controlled by al-Shabaab, and you have reports of aid agencies now reaching al-Shabaab-controlled territory in southern Somalia. This is a good step, but al-Shabaab has not opened all the humanitarian corridors in southern Somalia. There are still restrictions in place.
There are many other practical and logistical problems in delivering aid. You have only one port that is open to aid agencies, which is Mogadishu. Kismayo is not open because it is controlled by al-Shabaab. But you are talking of port facilities that are completely run aground; there is no machinery in place, and you have infrastructure that has not been rehabilitated in the last twenty years. You have checkpoints by militias extorting money. So the practicalities of delivery are enormously challenging in Somalia.
“Even if we are able to get food and supplies to the main ports of Somalia, I think there is a real challenge in being able to deliver that assistance – what I call the ‘last-mile’ problem.
There is still a lot of violence going on in Somalia because of Al-Shabaab (which, by the way, now has openly admitted to ties with Al-Qaeda). Many Kenyan peoples are fleeing this conflict, traveling to Kenya. Now, many are a part of the Dadaab complex:
Built in the mid-1990s to host 90,000 people, the Dadaab complex is now the largest refugee camp in the world, with almost 380,000 refugees. Newly arrived refugees are forced to live in the open, on the outskirts of the camps, with no easy access to water.
That’s the general history behind this issue. Let us pray that peace may prevail over this violence, and Kenyan peoples can return home.