Somalis are continuing to flee from the drought and conflict in their homeland as
the worst famine for decades in the Horn of Africa region bites harder. The disaster
has already killed tens of thousands of people, especially children.
what are the underlying reasons for this tragedy and could we see a similar famine
in the future unless more effort is put into finding long-term solutions to food and
water insecurity? Susy Hodges spoke to two members of the Caritas Internationalis
confederation who have both recently returned from the Horn of Africa region.
Sheahen visited the huge Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya on behalf of Catholic
Relief Services where hundreds of Somalis refugees arrive each day. She says the
people arriving there "have walked for weeks, even months" and because the camp is
so overcrowded many of the latest arrivals are having to build makeshift shelters
that are "usually a bunch of sticks, covered with scraps of cloth or plastic bags...
and a lot of them are even sleeping out in the open."
She also toured the
hospitals in the camp and said "seeing the malnourished children was very disturbing"
and added that although she'd seen a lot of refugee situations in the past, the current
famine situation was the worst she'd witnessed: "I've never seen hunger on such a
massive scale before.."
Alastair Dutton is the Emergency Programme Manager
for Caritas Internationalis and recently returned from a tour of Kenya and Ethiopia.
He talks about the complex underlying reasons for the current tragedy: "the drought
is definitely very severe and .... there are many many carcasses of dead animals"
on the ground. Asked if he thinks we could see a similar famine in the future unless
long-term preventative solutions are put in place he replies: "Quite definitely and
that's true across that whole sub-Saharan belt ... from Mauritania to Somalia ...
there will certainly be future droughts". Dutton says one of the reasons for this
is because the climate in that whole belt "is becoming more erratic, more hostile."