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Humanitarian Watch

Somalia faces yet another famine

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Somalia is facing its second major famine in six years.

Under the shadow of that threat, one aid group is making a difference for the many Somalis who have lost loved ones and their homes.

When it struck in 2011, the Turkish Red Crescent was among the first international aid groups to help. And it hasn’t left Somalia since.

TRT World’s Editor-at-Large Ahmed al Burai, has more.

Humanitarian Watch

More Than 130 Somali Refugees Repatriated from Yemen

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GENEVA — In a joint operation funded by the United States, the U.N. migration and refugee agencies have repatriated 134 Somali refugees from war-torn Yemen.

A refugee boat carrying 73 men and women and 61 children left the Yemeni port of Aden on Monday and is to arrive Tuesday at the Somali port of Berbera. It is the third voluntary return of Somalis organized by the International Organization for Migration and U.N. refugee agency since September.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman said some previous efforts had to be suspended in the past few years because of the risks involved in organizing an operation such as this in a war-torn country.

“Despite security difficulties there and the fact of divided authorities, we were still able to get into an area around Aden that has not always been accessible to humanitarian aid groups and manage this transport,” he said.

The U.N. migration agency reports the Somalis came to Yemen in search of a better life, but got caught up in the conflict and often were subjected to abuse by smugglers. The IOM began organizing the voluntary returns in November 2016. Since then, the agency has helped 1,845 Somalis return home.

Millman told VOA Somali refugees receive a reintegration package to help them restart their lives when they arrive home. He said they often receive a grant of $1,100 so they can start a business, buy a cow, or invest in some other form of livelihood. That acts as a big inducement for refugees to voluntarily return, he noted.

“It is a strong sweetener because the stigma of going abroad and failing is so great that we find this is a very effective way of lubricating I guess is the best word, this process,” he said.

Millman said the cash grant ends up being less expensive for the donor than the cost of keeping a refugee or migrant in detention in Europe. He noted that the repatriation project is funded by a $4.4 million donation from the United States.

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Humanitarian Watch

9 dead, more at a risk as drought ravages Somalia

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A severe drought has claimed the lives of at least nine people in Somalia’s Galkayo District, media reported.

The state broadcaster, Mogadishu Radio, quoted Galkayo Mayor Hersi Yusuf Bare giving the statistics while warning that the situation could get worse.

“The destitute people I met at Harhaar pastoral land are deeply susceptible to the effects of the famine generated by the severe drought,” said Mr Bare.

“So far, nine people have died in the areas visited, a sign that many more were vulnerable,” he added.

The mayor said the severe weather conditions had displaced thousands from Galkayo, which lies some 750km north of the capital Mogadishu.

He stressed that many nomadic people had been forced to migrate as the drought continued to decimate most of their livestock.

The generally insufficient rains in the southern and central Somalia have severely diminished the local food supplies.

UN agency OCHA on August 31 stated that malnutrition had reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia.

“Malnutrition, one of the leading indicators of the crisis, has reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia, primarily, though not exclusively among displaced populations,” OCHA was quoted saying in ReliefWeb .

“Overall, some 388,000 acutely malnourished children are in need of critical nutrition support, including life-saving treatment for more than 87,000 severely malnourished children.”

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Humanitarian Watch

Weeks left to save East Africa’s starving children: World Vision

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ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than 800,000 children risk death by starvation in East Africa and aid agencies have just weeks – months at most – to save them, World Vision charity said on Wednesday.

Conflict in South Sudan and Somalia, and prolonged drought across the region have left more than 15 million children in need of food, water, healthcare, education or protection, said the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF.

Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya have witnessed a spike in hunger levels among children in recent weeks, with several areas reporting that more than a third of their children have health problems as a result, World Vision said in a statement.

“We are still in the danger zone. More than 800,000 children remain severely malnourished and are at risk of starving to death,” said Christopher Hoffman, World Vision’s humanitarian response director in East Africa.

“We have months, maybe only weeks, to stop this from happening,” he said, as World Vision – the world’s largest international children’s charity – launched its second appeal in six months for the region.

“We’re seeing emaciated children, nearly skeletons, lying in pain in hospital beds … We’re seeing mothers unable to breastfeed because they are malnourished themselves,” he said.

Famine struck parts of South Sudan earlier this year, and there is a high risk that it could return there and develop in Somalia, U.N. agencies said earlier this month.

“The hunger crisis is wreaking havoc on 24 million people (in East Africa) – more than the population of Berlin, London, Chicago and Bangkok combined,” said Hoffman.

Much of Somalia is experiencing emergency hunger levels, which is one level below famine on an internationally-recognized scale of hunger.

Drought has forced more than 890,000 people to leave their homes between November and August, on top of 160,000 who fled fighting.

The displaced are particularly vulnerable to hunger, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Rains are due to begin in October, it said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Alex Whiting @Alexwhi, Editing by Katy Migiro and Lyndsay Griffiths

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