Desperation in Somalia
September 7th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

U.N.: 750,000 people in Somalia face 'imminent starvation'

A record 4 million people in Somalia need humanitarian aid and 750,000 people are in danger of "imminent starvation," the United Nations said on Monday.

Famine in the African nation has spread to the Bay region, which is now the sixth area in Somalia suffering from an acute shortage of food, according to the the U.N.'s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Officials are calling for a surge in response efforts as the crisis is predicted to get worse. FULL POST

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Topics: Famine • Food • Somalia
August 23rd, 2011
10:00 AM ET

How to end Somalia's famine and weaken the insurgents

Editor's Note: Ken Menkhaus is Professor of Political Science at Davidson College.

By Ken Menkaus, Foreign Affairs

The ongoing famine in Somalia has placed millions of Somalis at risk. On August 5, the U.S. government estimated that the famine had taken the lives of more than 29,000 children under the age of five. A total of 3.7 million Somalis - almost half the country's population - are in need of emergency relief, and more than 750,000 are now in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

For several weeks, it appeared that the international community would be unable to aid those suffering from starvation. But developments over the past two weeks offer at least modest hope that key obstacles to food aid delivery may be overcome. FULL POST

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Topics: Famine • Somalia
By the time we declare famine, it's too late
Nearly half a million children in the Horn of Africa are at risk of dying from malnutrition and disease.
August 23rd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

By the time we declare famine, it's too late

Editor's Note: Andrew Blejwas is the Humanitarian Media Manager at Oxfam America.

By Andrew Blejwas, Special to CNN

There is nowhere to begin a conversation about aid delivery and famine in Somalia that doesn’t wind up in a labyrinth of blame and risk. But at the end of the maze, ultimately, are people like Mohamed Dahir, a local Somali aid worker helping to deliver aid to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) throughout Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle. FULL POST

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Topics: Famine • Somalia
Somalia: A very man-made disaster
An emaciated child is among the displaced Somalis at the Dadaab refugee complex last month in eastern Kenya.
August 18th, 2011
11:05 AM ET

Somalia: A very man-made disaster

By Alex Perry, TIME

The difference between a drought and a famine is down to man. Texas is in the middle of its worst drought on record right now but cowboys aren't starving – because Texas, and the US, have government and economy enough to ensure they don't. Somalia doesn't have any government worthy of the name and that's one reason why persistent drought has pushed around 3 million Somalis in the south of the country close to starvation.

The difference between ungoverned Somalia and its better-governed neighbors, Ethiopia and Kenya, is starkly visible on a map: on one side of the border, famine; on the other hunger, and a refugee crisis, but no mass starvation. As Nancy Lindborg, co-ordinating the U.S. response to the famine, says: "If you ever needed a strong case for the need for democratic inclusive government..."

But Somalia's famine is also about the lack of something else: a decent aid operation. There are three reasons the emergency effort to save starving Somalis is falling tragically short. FULL POST

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Topics: Aid • Famine • Somalia
August 15th, 2011
08:40 AM ET

How to end hunger

Editor's note: Josette Sheeran is the executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme, which provides food assistance to more than 105 million people in 75 countries. She spoke at the TED Global conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "Ideas worth spreading," which it distributes through its website.

Topics: Aid • Development • Famine
Somalia famine 'crime against humanity'?
An emaciated child is among the displaced Somalis at the Dadaab refugee complex last month in eastern Kenya.
August 12th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

Somalia famine 'crime against humanity'?

Editor's note: Jens David Ohlin is associate professor of law at Cornell Law School and the co-author (with George Fletcher) of "Defending Humanity: When Force is Justified and Why" (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Somalia is known to most Americans as the setting for the book and film "Black Hawk Down" and as the world center for modern-day pirates. It is the poster child for failed humanitarian interventions and for good intentions gone wrong.

But none of that should blind Americans to the horrific humanitarian crisis developing in Somalia, a growing famine that threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of people if they do not receive help from the international community.

Of course, many of the problems that doomed the U.S. intervention in 1992, and led to "Black Hawk Down," remain. Despite years of diplomatic efforts, Somalia persists in a state of near anarchy. The central government controls only a fraction of the country, and warlords with private militia still battle each other for control of territory and trade. Now, an Islamic insurgency has further eroded security in the region, and organized groups of pirates use Somalia's anarchy as a launching point for raids against merchant vessels. FULL POST

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Topics: Famine • Law • Somalia
The world failed Somalia
African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, where they engaged in heavy fighting with Al-Shabaab militants on July 29.
August 10th, 2011
05:20 PM ET

The world failed Somalia

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

By Jayshree Bajoria, CFR.org

The famine declared in five areas in southern Somalia is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming four to six weeks, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The UN estimates twenty-nine thousand children under the age of five have died in southern Somalia and 3.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance across the country.

Rashid Abdi, a Nairobi-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, calls the crisis in Somalia "a collective failure of the international community," which failed to act on early warnings of a crisis, or to invest in sustainable agriculture to make local communities self-sufficient. Additionally, al-Shabaab, an Islamic militant group which controls most of southern Somalia, had banned several international aid groups from the region in 2009.

Though they lifted the ban last month (al-Jazeera), restrictions remain. The priority now, Abdi says, is to reach people trapped inside al-Shabaab-controlled territory, and "if that means negotiating with al-Shabaab, so be it."

FULL POST

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Topics: Famine • Somalia
Catastrophe in the Horn: Causes and responses
A Somali child suffering from severe acute malnutrition sits in a ward of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) NGO in Dadaab in Kenya on July 22, 2011. MSF is currently treating over 7000 children for malnutrition in this one of three camp at Dadaab. With the worst drought in 60 years hitting the Horn of Africa, the flow of Somali refugees arriving at the camp has increased over recent months, putting resources there under severe strain. (Getty Images)
July 27th, 2011
04:30 PM ET

Catastrophe in the Horn: Causes and responses

Editor's Note: Stewart M. Patrick is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he writes the blog The Internationalist) and Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance. The following is reposted from his blog.

By Stewart M. Patrick, CFR.org

The area straddling Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya, has been dubbed the “triangle of death” as the worst drought in more than fifty years grips the area. An estimated thirty percent of children are malnourished, many arriving in refugee camps so “emaciated and with skin lesions so deep that you could see their bones showing in their skulls and arms.” According to testimony by State Department official Reuben Brigety, acute malnutrition has reached 50% and 40%, respectively, in Ethiopia and Kenya—far above the 15% threshold for an international humanitarian emergency.

The causes of this emergency are complex, and the international effort to address the situation is well-intentioned, but the crisis demands a broader and dramatic reaction, which sadly, remains improbable. FULL POST

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Topics: Africa • Aid • Famine • Food • Humanitarian intervention
Five things to know about the food crisis in the Horn of Africa
Nearly half a million children in the Horn of Africa are at risk of dying from malnutrition and disease.
July 26th, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Five things to know about the food crisis in the Horn of Africa

Editor's Note: EJ Hogendoorn is the Horn of Africa project director for the International Crisis Group and Ben Dalton is a communications & IT officer.

By EJ Hogendoorn and Ben Dalton – Special to CNN

Famine has returned to the Horn of Africa, and Somalia is the worst hit. For the first time since the early 90s, the United Nations has declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia, meaning that more than 30 percent of the population is malnourished. All told, 3.7 million Somalis are in need of immediate food aid, part of some 11.5 million in need across the Horn of Africa. Each month, huge streams of refugees cross the border into Ethiopia and Kenya–nearly 170,000 since January–spreading the humanitarian crisis with them. Tens of thousands have already died.  FULL POST

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Topics: Crisis • Famine • Food