Food aid reaches only one in five of Somalia's starving

Civil war and Islamist militias are preventing convoys from bringing relief to the most needy

A month after famine was first declared in Somalia fewer than one in five of the 2.8 million starving people in the south are getting help. Continued conflict and the banning of aid organisations by the al-Qa'ida inspired Islamist group al-Shabaab has made it impossible for large-scale aid to get through.

The lucky ones make it to refugee camps in Mogadishu or in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia or Djibouti, but for the majority help is still a long way off. Many have been forced to remain in Somalia by al-Shabaab militias, who believe it is better to die than take to food from infidels.

While al-Shabaab has retreated from Mogadishu, which is now controlled by a weak UN-backed interim government and 9,000 African Union troops, the terrorist group still has control of areas outside the capital.

The continued conflict has combined with the worst drought in decades, pushing 3.7 million people to the point of starvation. More than 30,000 children have died and as many as 500,000 more will be killed by hunger without immediate aid. All told, there are now nearly 13 million people at risk in the region .

Some believe the situation in Somalia is so desperate that the only way of getting help to the starving in the south and central regions is to introduce "safe" corridors for aid, policed by a peacekeeping force. Experts say fears of a repeat of the disastrous UN military intervention of 1993, immortalised in the film Black Hawk Down, have prevented this from being tabled.

The Irish charity Goal believes that the British government should exert pressure on the UN Security Council to deploy peacekeepers to Somalia. John O'Shea, Goal's chief executive, said: "Al-Shabaab say they would rather all Somalis died of starvation than accept Western food. This is not a famine; this is a war. The international community appears to be almost entirely focused on refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti, and on feeding programmes in Mogadishu, when these only represent an overspill from the heart of the crisis. The fact is that four million of the worst-affected people are trapped inside Somalia."

Ben Rawlence, author of a Human Rights Watch report detailing abuses inflicted on Somalis by both al-Shabaab and the interim government, said: "I don't think there are any easy solutions. Peacekeepers with World Food Programme convoys are not the answer. You don't want to introduce another armed factor into what is already a very messy civil war."

Of the 1.4 million children affected by the food crisis in Somalia, 390,000 are suffering from malnutrition and 140,000 in the south-central region face imminent death. Organisations such as Oxfam, which are unable to operate outside Mogadishu, are instead helping to train and fund local organisations that can go into the al-Shabaab-controlled regions.

Turkey last week tried to rally Islamic countries by hosting a donor conference with delegates from 57 Muslim states. Aid from Muslim nations would be unlikely to face the same obstruction from al-Shabaab. On Friday Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Prime Minister, became the first non-African leader to visit Mogadishu in 20 years.

Even in Mogadishu help is not guaranteed. Thousands of sacks of food aid have been stolen. The World Food Programme (WFP) has been investigating food theft for two months but says the scale of the crisis means suspending its service is not an option.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, the WFP has scaled back a blanket feeding programme in the remote Turkana region because of a lack of money. It had intended to feed all children under five who are at risk, but has had to limit help to the under-threes.

Thandie Mwape, a UN humanitarian affairs officer in Kenya, said: "There's a gap in funding because donors are not coming. There is a danger when you leave out under-fives; they are a priority. But if the money is not there, you have to target the most vulnerable ones."

Give a day's pay for Africa

You've already raised an amazing £125,000:

Nearly 13 million people are at risk of dying from hunger in the Horn of Africa as a result of the worst drought in 60 years. Two million children under the age of five are malnourished and 500,000 are severely malnourished. The Independent on Sunday is asking readers, their friends and families to join its senior staff and each pledge one day's pay to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. High-profile figures from the worlds of politics, sport and the arts are backing us. Together, The Independent on Sunday and its sister title, The Independent, have so far raised more than £125,000. Thank you!

Join up – and help the starving

To join our 'Give a day's pay for Africa' campaign, go to independent.co.uk/giveadayspay. All donations are welcome – to give £5, enough to buy high-energy food supplements to save five children a day, text INDY to 70000. And spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #Giveadayspay

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
News
news
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Supply Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...

Primary General Cover Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...

Part Time Primary Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week