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Somalia: severe food crisis, more aid needed

I arrived in Nairobi early last week, and have been briefed on different aspects of our response to the food crisis, and the difficulties of delivering aid to a country with such a complex set of problems.

I am in Somalia, trying to find out what the situation is really like for children living here, and to see how we can better assist.

Drought, conflict and fear of malnutrition
I witnessed Save the Children staff, hard-working Somalis, delivering urgently needed supplies that will help prevent more children and their families suffering from the debilitating effects of malnutrition.
I spoke with Noor Salat, the chairman of the group who were receiving relief supplies from Save the Children at this site.

He explained to me that he and his family had travelled by foot for several hundred kilometres from Mogadishu, and that the others were from across different parts of southern Somalia, fleeing drought and conflict.

More to be done

His biggest concern is ensuring that the people he supports have enough to eat, clean water and access to healthcare.

He described how, thanks to Save the Children and our supporters, that the children in his camp had started to put on weight again, but that much more needed to be done.

Their camp is a barren wasteland, with only a handful of latrines, and dirty water to drink.

Peace, stability and safety

Our staff, some of whom have worked with us for over nineteen years, tell me that all the Somali’s want is peace and stability.

They want a place where their children can grow up in safety, go to school and have successful lives.

I ask some of the children if they feel safe, and they tell me that they do, until Amina, one of the mothers, calls out and says that they do not know yet what being safe means.

Relief effort

In this area we are trying to feed 24,000 malnourished children, and across the whole of Somalia almost 70,000.

In other parts of the country we are also distributing basic materials such as tarpaulins to help protect them from the sun and the rain.

There are hundreds of thousands of children who face hunger and death across Somalia and agencies such as Save the Children are working hard to prevent the crisis from worsening. And still it is not enough.

Food crisis

Somalia is at the heart of the food crisis in the Horn of Africa, a region where up to 12 million people are at risk of severe hunger and death.

The more we can do to assist the Somalis, the less they will need to flee across borders putting further pressure on neighbouring countries already struggling with drought themselves.

Appeal: hope and aid

Our goal is to reach over 300,000 people across Somalia with lifesaving food, water, medical care, as well as education and safe spaces for recovering children.

Somalia may have many problems, but there is hope, and today I saw it in the eyes of the children we are helping to live through the current crisis.

We can give hope and aid to many more children across the country, but we can only do this with your support.

Stephen McDonald is a Senior Emergency Adviser with Save the Children. He is currently in Somalia assisting the relief efforts.


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