African famine threatens

War in Somalia

By Barry Mason:

Famine threat in the Horn of Africa

6 July 2011

The countries comprising the Horn of Africa face the threat of famine, after a series of failed and poor rainy seasons has created the worst drought in 60 years.

The 2010 late rainy season failed completely in many parts of the area and the April-May rains were very low, with northeast Kenya getting only 10 percent of the usual rainfall. The impact is worst in Somalia and Ethiopia, but Kenya, Djibouti and parts of Uganda are also affected.

The current USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) map of the area, indicating levels of food insecurity, shows large parts of Ethiopia and Somalia classed as in emergency and most of the remaining parts of each country classed as in crisis. Large areas of northeastern Kenya are classed as in crisis. In total, around 10 million people are affected.

FEWSNET uses an internationally recognised 5 level code to indicate phases of food insecurity. The phases are 1: none or minimal, 2: stressed, 3: crisis, 4: emergency and 5: catastrophe or famine.

While not yet a full blown famine, many fear the situation is approaching a tipping point where this would become inevitable. Sarah Robinson from the Irish humanitarian agency on the ground in Somalia explained, “A combination of hunger and despair means that many people simply go to sleep and do not have the energy to wake up. This has the potential to be as bad as anything since 1991.”

A major famine in 1991 killed around a quarter of a million people and left two million displaced.

In Somalia the drought and threatened famine are compounded by the ongoing civil war and social upheaval. Some people leaving the drought ravaged rural areas have trekked to the capital, Mogadishu, but many more have headed for Ethiopia and Kenya.

Obama under fire over detention of terror suspect on US navy ship. Somali man taken to New York to face criminal court trial after being questioned for two months without a lawyer: here.

UN declares famine in parts of Somalia: here.

US-backed forces launch military offensive in Somalia as aid is used as a weapon of war: here.

Somali women face rape and sexual assault in refugee camps: here.

The CIA’s Secret Sites in Somalia: here.

The Obama administration is operating an illegal secret CIA prison compound in Somalia into which targeted individuals are “rendered” without trial to be tortured: here.

Keith Olbermann talks with Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, also a “Countdown” contributor, about a secret CIA site in Somalia that trains Somali agents in counterterrorism efforts against a militant Islamic group. Watch the video here.

U.S. indirectly supplies guns that fuel Somalian conflict: here.

African land grab threatens food security: study: here.

USA: Hunger Stalks California’s Rural Communities. David Bacon, Truthout: “As communities get more rural and farm workers make up more of the population, people get poorer. In 2009, the average yearly income in Santa Clara County – home of Silicon Valley – was $94,715. Silicon Valley has its own not-so-hidden poverty, but the urban standard of living, especially in the country’s premier high-tech industrial center, is much higher than San Benito County… San Benito County’s unemployment rate was exactly double – 20.6 percent”: here.

Los Angeles and Orange Counties, known as centers of Southern California wealth and glamour, are now home to half a million people seeking help from food pantries: here.

Starvation is caused by the sick priorities of our system, not lack of food, writes Ken Olende: here.

Kenya: Flower cash crops reap hunger, destruction: here.

As Long as the Rich Can Speculate on Food, the World’s Poor Go Hungry: here.

The corporate takeover of Africa’s food is on shaky grounds — it’s time for action. “We, the smallholder farmers, want to have good lives,” says Victoria Adongo from the Peasant Farmers’ Association of Ghana (PFAG). “We have our seed systems that we like and are proud of. So we do not want multinational companies to come in and take over”: here.

10 thoughts on “African famine threatens

  1. Since 2009, Somalia has been a major focus of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies. Researching his exclusive report in this week’s issue of The Nation, Jeremy Scahill discovered that amid the country’s devastating humanitarian crisis, the CIA has opened a new base in the capital city, and is using a secret prison in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency. Read the article and watch Scahill on Democracy Now! where he reports on the consequences of Washington’s intensifying efforts in Somalia.,l4ub,2fe,1mjk,86cr,9vru,jny8,l4ub,2fe,6gew,b83f,9vru,jny8

    All best,
    Peter Rothberg, The Nation


  2. Africa crisis now officially a famine

    SOMALIA: The UN officially described the drought and war-fuelled crisis in the country as a famine today.

    The term is used when at least one in three children are malnourished or deaths from hunger reach two adults or four children per 10,000 per day.

    Oxfam said the region hadn’t been this dry for 60 years and that milder conditions in 1992 had still led to hundreds of thousands of deaths in Somalia.

    UN official Mark Bowden said $300 million (£186m) would be needed in the next two months to deal with the crisis.


  3. UN fundraiser to combat famine

    ITALY: The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said today that there will be a donors’ pledging conference in Nairobi tomorrow to raise as much as £900 million to help fight famine in East Africa.

    UN officials made the announcement after meeting in Rome to discuss the food crisis in Somalia, where more than half the population reportedly suffers acute malnutrition.

    Some families fleeing famine say they lived on roots of wild plants as they walked for weeks to reach UN camps across the border in Kenya.


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  7. Dear friends,

    18 million people are desperate for food in Africa’s drought-struck Sahel, but urgent appeals for help are being met with deafening silence by governments worldwide. Senegalese musician Baaba Maal has started a petition to get the US, Japan, France and Germany to pledge their fair share of aid. Let’s join him — sign the urgent petition below and sound the massive alarm needed to shake these leaders into action:

    Sign the petition
    My name is Baaba Maal, and I’m a Senegalese musician writing with a personal plea for help. I live in Africa’s drought-struck Sahel region where 18 million people are on the brink of disaster, including 1 million children at risk of starvation. But our urgent appeals for help are being met with deafening silence. Only a targeted and overwhelming demand for action can stop this catastrophe from turning deadly.

    The UN says millions of lives could be destroyed unless $1.5 billion in aid is channeled in immediately, but governments have pledged less than half the required sum. The countries who can make all the difference are the US, Japan, France and Germany, but they’re stalling — that’s why I started a petition on Avaaz’s Community Petitions website to appeal to the world for help.

    In days, world leaders will gather in Brussels to discuss the Sahel — if they decide right there and then to pledge their fair share, we can avert disaster. Sign this urgent petition now — Avaaz, Africans Act 4 Africa, and Oxfam will deliver it in a coordinated stunt when we reach 1 million signatures:

    Terrible drought, political unrest, and sky high food prices have wreaked havoc on an area the size of the US, stretching from Senegal in the west all the way to Sudan in the east. People here are doing everything they can to survive, but the crisis has hit so hard that it’s difficult to stay hopeful. I’ve seen women and children trying to grow food in patches of land that are bone dry. They know that people are talking about what is happening in the Sahel, but they don’t know if aid will ever arrive.

    The UN has only received 43 percent of the $1.5 billion needed — it’s a shortfall of gargantuan proportions. But this gap must be filled, and can be filled by the world’s richest countries, if there’s political will. We don’t have much time to avert mass suffering, and I’m determined to speak on behalf of the people here until they get the help they need.

    The world has turned a blind eye to crises like this before, but this time we can make the difference between life and death by forcing our governments to respond. Sign this urgent petition now:

    Avaaz members have come together time and time again to respond to natural disasters, saving thousands of lives by ensuring that crucial aid was delivered to Burma, Haiti, Somalia and Pakistan. We have the power to force our leaders to stop idling away in the face of a crisis we can prevent. Let’s stand together now to demand that the world respond to the pleas of the millions living in the vast Sahel region.

    With hope and determination,

    Baaba Maal, with the Avaaz team


    A distress call from Africa’s Sahel: Millions might starve (CNN)

    UN: 18 Million in West Africa to Go Hungry in 2012 (The Associated Press)

    Meeting of like minds can save the hungry millions in Sahel (Sydney Morning Herald)

    Baaba Maal: people in the Sahel region need food and water now (The Guardian)

    Coming weeks critical to tackle Sahel hunger – U.N. humanitarian chief (AlertNet)


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