Close to 260 000 people in Somalia, half of them children under five, have starved to death between October 2010 and April 2012, the UN revealed in a shocking report released last week, generating a heated debate about the continuous presence of humanitarian agencies’ on the continent and the international community’s political will to help the hopeless continent.
At the peak of the crises, between May and August 2011, about 30 000 excess people died per month, according to the UN.
“The suffering played out like a drama without witnesses,” Philippe Lazzarini, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said in a statement published on the UN News Centre website.
Lazzarini, who admitted that the world could have done more to prevent this catastrophe, said, 2.7 million Somalis are still in need of life-saving assistance and support to build up their livelihoods. “We are redoubling efforts to invest in Somalia’s people and communities to break the cycle of crisis and response, and we are seeking ways to bridge humanitarian and development work which will be crucial to consolidating the resilience of Somalia’s people and communities,” he said.
Apart from war and conflict, Somalia has been hardly hit by the impact of climate change, and daily attacks by rebel group Al-Shabab have driven thousands of farmers and pastoralists away from their landto seek refuge in neighbouring countries.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said recently that over 200 people in Africa go to bed with an empty stomach every year, a harsh reality Africans have to face more than a century after the continent’s independence, as their leaders steal state money to enrich themselves, and live like kings and princes unperturbed by their people’s plight.
*Photo by Reuters/Guardian.co.uk