Babies dying of hunger as Somalia rocked by worst drought in 40 years

‘Sometimes we just lie down together and cry,’ woman facing hunger in Horn of Africa country says

Zoe Tidman
Wednesday 25 May 2022 17:19 BST
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The graves of twin sisters Ebla and Abdia who died of hunger are seen at the Kaxareey camp in Dollow
The graves of twin sisters Ebla and Abdia who died of hunger are seen at the Kaxareey camp in Dollow (REUTERS)

Babies are falling ill and dying of hunger as Somalia suffers the impact of its worst drought in 40 years.

A lack of rain for four consecutive seasons in the country in the Horn of Africa has caused harvests to shrivell up in the extreme dry conditions.

United Nations (UN) officials said more money is needed to help the millions at risk of a devastating famine which has been looming for months.

For Halima Hassan Abdullahi, it is already too late. Her two grandaughters, Ebla and Abdia, lived for just a day.

Their mother, who had recently moved into a camp for displaced families in the town of Dollow, was weak and gave birth to the twins a month early.

“She is malnourished and her two babies died of hunger,” Ms Abdullahi said.

Halima Hassan Abdullahi stands near the graves of her twin granddaughters Ebla and Abdia (REUTERS)

Others children are becoming weakened by hunger before illness claims them.

Asha Ali Osman lost her three-year-old and four-year-old to measles a month ago.

She said she cannot breastfeed her youngest. “When my children are hungry, I can beg some sugar water from a neighbour. Or sometimes we just lie down together and cry,” the 25-year-old mother said.

She is one of thousands who have fled to the Kaxareey camp after being uprooted by the drought, which experts have linked to the climate crisis.

Global warming is increasing the threat of water shortages, with the UN recently warning this could be the reality for one in four children by 2040.

Back in 2011, Somalia faced a famine that saw 250,000 people die - most of whom were children under the age of five.

Somalia is facing its worst drought in 40 years (AFP via Getty Images)

Concerns are mounting that the country could be approaching a tragedy of the similar scale as the drought continues.

With global focus on Ukraine, aid agencies and the UN are desperate to attract attention to hunger in the country.

But the UN plan to provide emergency aid is only 15 per cent funded.

“We need the cash to avert the risk of famine,” said Rukia Yacoub, deputy director for the World Food Programme in East Africa, said.

The Somalian government declared a national emergency over the drought last November.

The UN said last month the situation had rapidly deteriorated since then, raising a “credible risk” of famine in pockets of the country and causing “large-scale displacements”.

Its refugee agency found half a million were displaced due to extreme dry conditions in the first few months of this year alone.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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