Somalia is on the verge of catastrophe: we must act now
Wednesday 22 February 2017
As famine looms in Somalia, the UN has warned that 50,000 children could die if they don’t get help.
Staff at clinics we support in the Puntland region are seeing a significant increase in children arriving with severe malnutrition.
“What we’re seeing on the ground suggests we’re at a tipping point,” says Hassan Saadi Noor, our Country Director in Somalia.
“A significant worsening of malnutrition cases tells us a famine isn’t far off.”
The last time a famine hit Somalia, a quarter of a million people died.
We can’t let this happen again – we must act now to prevent a catastrophe.
Days without food
Families in the hardest-hit areas are reported to be going for days without food.
Iftin Yusuf Mohamed, a nurse working at the maternal and child health clinic in Yaka, Puntland, told us conditions for children are getting worse every day.
“There is a real shortage of food, medication and of water supplies. If we don’t get it now, it could be a human tragedy with high mortality rates,” she said.
Malnourished at ten months old
At Yaka clinic, our team met Amina*. She and her family had to abandon their home in search of food after all but two of their 50 sheep died.
Now, her ten-month-old foster daughter, Aasiya*, is sick with malnutrition.
“This little one has been sick since she was born,” she says. “I have been everywhere and took her to every hospital, but unfortunately, she is not getting any better.”
Now, baby Aasiya is being treated at a clinic we support in Yaka, Puntland.
Crying from hunger
But Amina’s other children are struggling with hunger too, and she worries about how she will find enough food for them.
“You can feel that there is nothing you can give children to calm them down or to meet their needs,” she says. “They get loud and restless.
“They are there asking you to feed them, and you’re just helpless and in despair… They all cry from hunger.”
‘Soon there will be nothing left’
For Amina and her family, the outlook is bleak.
“Right now there is drought and famine everywhere,” she says. “All the cattle are dead, camels, sheep and so on.”
“People have struggled since the drought came along: no crops, no food to eat, our goats ceased providing milk.
“If there is no rain anytime soon, then I believe that there will be nothing left.”
‘I am thanking the doctors’
At 15 months, Abdifatax* is a little older than Aasiya but he, too, is seriously ill from malnutrition.
He was so sick when he arrived, the team at Garowe Hospital had to put a feeding tube into his stomach to deliver vital nutrition.
His father, Mohamed*, says: “[After] about 2 weeks of being ill, my son looked severely malnourished, he was vomiting and had diarrhoea.
“He has been in the hospital for about three days now and there is a big difference between how he was when I brought him and now.
“I am thanking the doctors, the assistants… they are all there and checking on my son every hour, providing medication and making sure he is OK.”
How you can help
Our emergency teams are working across Somalia and the Horn of Africa to help children affected by this crisis.
We’re providing life-saving medical care, mobile health clinics and nutrition support.
We’re distributing cash transfers and food vouchers so families can afford to eat. And we’re transporting water to drought-hit communities.
But we urgently need help to reach more children like Aasiya and Abdifatax.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.