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One Million Somalis Face Starvation


More than one million people are estimated to be at high risk of dying for starvation and lack of water due to a long spell of drought in Somalia, local and international aid agencies have said.

The drought is especially severe in the central and southern regions all along the border with Ethiopia. The towns of Gebiley, Buro and Odweyneh in the northwest known as Somaliland are also suffering from the drought.

The worst affected region is Bakol where several people are dying from famine and its related diseases everyday. Its neighboring region of Gedo is not any better where the famine claims the lives of four everyday, according to the local officials.

Entire villages have been abandoned in Bakol and Gedo regions with thousands of families having moved from their villages and countryside to the main towns in search of water and food. The few villages where still some people are available include El-Garas and Biyoley whose people travel 60 Kilometers to get to Tieglow town for water everyday.

According to Sheikh Ahmed Sheikh Aden, one of the elders in El-Garas village, after covering that long distance for water one should still stand a long queue for nearly 24 hours to obtain a jerry can of 20 litter water.

It is the lack of water that mainly kills the people, he said. It is not the people alone, but the livestock has also been affected by the drought.

"Forget about cattle, almost all of them have gone, but the goats and camels are still struggling," said Kusow Issaq Hassan, the chairman of El-Garas village whom the Xinhua reporter contacted on the VHF radio on Monday.

The families with goats and camels will still be able to survive a little longer, he added. Where the security situation permits, the aid agencies are trying hard to get food and water to the most needy people in the regions along the border with Ethiopia.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and a Norwegian aid agency have already managed to get water supplies for the villages surrounding Buro and Gebiley towns in the breakaway republic of Somaliland.

The International Committee of Red Cross and the U.N. Children's Fund have also supplied nearly 800 tons of dry food rations, nutritious biscuits and porridge to the famine stricken families in Bakol and Gedo regions.

But despite these efforts, the drought is far from being challenged and the people and livestock keep dying in daily bases.

In Somaliland the aid can flow smoothly owing to the relative stability in the region, but in the south and central Somalia, the fate of the people remains uncertain since the lawlessness is also another problem and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it.

Unless something concrete is done, the people especially in southern Somalia will be dying in great numbers similar to their neighbors in Ethiopia.


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