Saturday, July 16, 2011

Experts warn of Somalia catastrophe

A Somali woman hands her severely malnourished child to a Ugandan medical officer as she climbs out of an armored personnel carrier ambulance in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, July 15, 2011.

Source: Press TV

A full-fledged humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Somalia, experts say, as the African country suffers what the United Nations has described as the worst drought in decades.

"We are no longer talking about a humanitarian crisis or a humanitarian emergency," said Jens Oppermann, the country director of Action against Hunger (Action Contre La Faim).

"We are seeing this as a humanitarian catastrophe," he told AFP on Friday.

Tens of thousands of Somali refugees are flooding camps in Ethiopia and Kenya in search of food after several seasons without rain decimated livestock and killed crops in Somalia.

According to the UN, it is estimated that a quarter of Somalia's population of 7.5 million is now either internally displaced or living outside the country as refugees.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday issued an urgent call for aid amid the deepening humanitarian crisis.

Ban pointed out that more than 11 million people in the African state are facing the worst drought in decades.

The UN chief urged the countries of the world to donate over USD 1.5 billion to pay for life-saving programs in the region.

“We must do everything we can to prevent this crisis deepening. The human cost of this crisis is catastrophic. We cannot afford to wait,” Ban further explained.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew the country's former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia remains one of the countries generating the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world.

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