Tens of thousands of Somalis have watched their land dry up after years without rain. Then the livestock died. Finally the food ran out.
Now they are making the perilous journey to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, also hit hard by drought. The UN expects that at least 10 million people there will need food aid.
A US aid official said yesterday he believed the situation in Ethiopia to be worse than the government acknowledged. It said that 4.5 million people there needed food aid, 40 per cent more than last year. Jason Frasier, mission director of Usaid in Ethiopia, the US government's aid arm, suggested that might be an under-assessment of the numbers.
Aid agencies are appealing for more than $100m in emergency funding while warning of dire consequences if help does not arrive.
The world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab, was built to house 90,000 people; more than 382,000 are now here, with people dying every day. Most of those coming to Dadaab are former subsistence farmers whose lands were made unworkable and and animals died after successive seasons without rain in the already war-ravaged country.