Somalia: Drought leaves one in four children malnourished

Continued drought in large parts of the southern Somalia is forcing many to flee their homes. Livestock is lost and limited food resources are available. There is an alarming increase in the number of children suffering from malnutrition. The Danish Refugee Council is among the aid agencies struggling to address the massive humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

This is the time of the year where the Somali people would be busy working on their lands to secure their livelihoods for the rest of the year. But there is no water, and not much hope for this to change in 2011. Predictions of too little rain and continued drought, leave a bleak outlook for the Somali people already suffering from protracted war and extreme poverty.

Pasture and water supplies are in extremely poor condition and close to a complete depletion in most areas of key pastoral livelihoods across Somalia, according to report from UN agencies.

“Today, we are able to reach out to a large number of people in very difficult areas in Somalia where most other aid agencies cannot operate. We have been here for a long time and have a solid foundation for relief work also in the most difficult part so the country. But we need to reach out to many more as the crisis in Somalia is of a scale that is growing day by day,” says Ann Mary Olsen, head of the International Department at the Danish Refugee Council.

Civil war has ravaged in Somalia for two decades. But also drought represents a key reason that Somalia is the country in the world generating the highest number of displaced and refugees. People are trying to escape their areas of origin with many crossing the borders to nearby countries.

During the first three months of 2011, nearly 50,000 Somali refugees were registered as they crossed the borders to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen. This is more than twice as many refugees fleeing compared to the same period last year. In Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp is now housing more than 320,000 people. It continues to grow and has by far reached the limits.

The Danish Refugee Council is working in Somalia and the region since 1998 and has years of experience from the region and insight into how the crisis develops.

“We are following the recent developments as a result of the armed conflict and with even greater concern due to the current drought situation and the migration in the region. The scale of the crisis is still unknown to many people around the world, and we need to make an effort to raise awareness of the terrifying humanitarian conditions in the country. We are witnessing a situation that requires much more attention and support, so we can step up support for the Somali people and for the region,” says Ann Mary Olsen.

An estimated 1.4 million people are displaced inside Somalia while there are around 680,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. Alexandra Strand Holm Journalist +45 33 73 51 80 +45 20 31 66 87