In Somalia, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated the threat of famine

Now more than 100 kilometers away, Jamak has separated Sumne Burale from its original village. For five years, the father has slept in a tent camp for displaced people near Garoui in northern Somalia. Drought and hunger pushed him to emigrate along with his wife and their four children. “In our village, we can no longer get food.”A 50-year-old goat farmer says on the phone, with the help of an Action Against Hunger translator.

Garote, “The situation is a bit better.”But recent price hikes are making families food insecure. “Sometimes I can’t buy enough food for everyone. Sometimes, I have to leave food for the kids twice a week.” Last month, 5.2 million Somalis, or one-third of the population, were severely food insecure. By September, there could be 7.1 million, including 2.1 million in emergencies, according to the Food Security Baseline Analysis *.

“Somalia on the brink of famine.”

Petrok Wilson, spokesman for the World Food Program in Somalia

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After years of drought associated with climate change, inflation due to the war in Ukraine is increasing the risk of famine in Somalia every day. “In some areas, prices have more than doubled in the last few months.”Petrok Wilson testified.

A Somali baby displaced by drought walks past a carcass of a goat, dying of hunger and thirst near Dolo, Somalia, April 14, 2022.  (Sopa Image / Sipa / Sally Hayden)

In southern Somalia, Sami Aden Abdi lives with his two children and three grandchildren in 3,600 makeshift tents in a camp for displaced people near Bardera. Eight months ago, the family traveled 85 kilometers to escape drought and violence from the Islamic terrorist group Al Shabaab. Sami Aden Abdi says he lost about 200 goats and ten cattle due to the drought. Animals necessary for its survival, such as its crops. Corn, beans, sorghum … these crops, which support and feed the family, “Not for almost four years.”, He assures. The Somali woman and her relatives ate a little once or twice a day with the help of their community. Not a single child survived.

Somalia is now suffering from a drought that began in late 2020. Crops have become scarce or non-existent, and more than three million head cattle die in a single year, like the Samir cattle. The area in which he is particularly affected, “Two farming communities have seen their river dry up completely”Fatuma Iske, project manager for Sado, explains that it works with food security in the region. “They’ve never seen it in their lives.”

June 14, 2022 Sami Aden Abdi at Iftin Camp in Bardera District (Somalia).  (Sado Somalia / Franceinfo)

Many had no choice but to be deported. As a result, 700,000 people have escaped drought in less than a year. This is exile “Very thin, weak”Fatuma Isse indicates. “A mother told me she could go on the street one day without eating. A family has lost two such children.” Desperate drought victims are moving towards the city’s resources, such as in Bardera. From now on Sami will be completely dependent on the help of the residents for food.

This is how I live by begging.

Sami Aden Abdi, Somali IDP in Bardera

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The day before, a Somali woman got one kg of rice and then one kg of corn. Two kg should be fed to six people.

In the Jamaican camp, near Garowe, two mothers, Zhao Cies Axmed and Basro Cali Jashi, take turns telling how they survived. Thanks to humanitarian aid, they have access to a cash transfer program provided by Action Against Hunger: $ 80 per month for food purchases.

With such an envelope, a few months ago, Jao was enough to buy rice and cooking oil. “Sometimes vegetables like tomatoes or onions.”. But as the war in Ukraine began, he and his family saw market prices rise.

“From month to month, sometimes day to day, prices never stay the same.”

Go, a displaced Somali woman in Garowe

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

A mother makes tea at a camp for displaced people in Baidoa (Somalia) on February 14, 2022.  (Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP)

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

“It’s not the scarcity that is starving people, it’s the explosion of prices that is making it inaccessible to millions of Somalis.”

Jean-Franোois Refoud, general director of action against hunger

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Other products are also affected by this price increase, which varies greatly at the local level. In the Garo region, “Before the conflict in Ukraine, a piece of 1 kg of rice cost 0.5 0.5. Today, my price is 1.5 1.5.”, Testified Jao, mother of six children. Faced with this inflation, Jao and Basro are forced to deprive themselves.

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

Go, a displaced Somali woman in Garowe

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“Before, we could buy meat, milk or cereals but we had to stopBastro continued. Today, we are satisfied with more basic products like rice, which makes our diet much less diverse. “

And if the cost to the population increases, so does the cost to humanitarian agencies, who join in raising prices without seeing their funds grow. “A few months ago, we could pay a family $ 70 to $ 100 a month for food. Today, we have to pay them at least $ 150 to $ 200.”Hajir Malim, regional director of the East Africa Action Against Hunger office, is portrayed. “These are resources we don’t have.”

In his view those who are suffering from this food crisis “Ukraine has been suffering from a lack of focus since the beginning of the war, which has led to delays in financing Ukraine’s priorities.”.

Without treatment, the effects of this malnutrition on health are innumerable and especially affect the immune system. “Our children often suffer from anemiaBastro explains. This year, I had to go to Camp Health Center at least three times because my kids had the flu or other bacterial infections. “ A 35-year-old Somali woman who has just given birth says she was scared throughout her pregnancy when she was diagnosed “Low blood levels” Where “A heartbeat that was not working well”.

Hungry children, especially young ones, “The weakest”, Has underlined Suleiman, who is in charge of the Red Cross’s nutrition program in Somalia. Jasinta Achen, UNICEF’s nutrition project officer in Somalia, echoed her sentiments: “Central and southern Somalia is in June Very high rate of malnutrition. Many districts have exceeded the emergency threshold for malnutrition: more than 15% of children there are malnourished. “

A Somali woman and her two-year-old child at the Baidoa Stabilization Center in Baidoa, Somalia, February 14, 2022, treating severely malnourished children.  (Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP)

In 30 years, Action Against Hunger has never seen so many admissions to its centers in Somalia. Between January and April, arrivals of severely malnourished children increased 55% * compared to the same period last year.

At these stabilization centers in Somalia, young patients have not been properly fed for weeks or even months. “The longer we wait, the more children will starve.”Mohammed Hassan, director of the NGO Save the Children in Somalia, emphasized that

“The children are very weak. We see some of them dying in the center a day later.”

Mohammad Hassan, director of Save the Children Somalia

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Faced with this tide, humanitarian organizations have appealed to the international community for help. For Mohammad Hassan, “This is unacceptable” To see such a situation, except “Being able to help everyone”

* Asterisk links indicate articles in English

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