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Africa, consumed by hunger

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As drought, famine and war ravage the Horn of Africa, nearly 29,000 children aged below five have already died. Even as it battles the worst drought in 60 years, Somalia can barely lick the wounds inflicted by civil strife, which has plagued the beleaguered nation for two decades. Impoverished refugees fleeing the country to aid camps in Kenya have to face the wrath of Al Qaeda-backed Shebab militia on the poorly policed border between the countries. The crisis, which the United Nations declared as more serious than the 1984 Ethiopia famine that claimed nearly a million lives, now threatens to spread to Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.


A Somali father and daughter wait in line at a refugee registration centre at Dagahaley refugee site within the Dadaab complex in Kenya after being displaced from their home in southern Somalia by the famine that is ravaging the Horn of Africa. An estimated 3.7 million people in Somalia — around a third of the country’s population — are on the brink of starvation. Aid agencies are stretched in trying to cope with a daily influx of Somalis escaping both the drought and al-Shabab extremists who have taken advantage of the famine to forcefully arrest and recruit men trying to escape.

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Aden Salaad, 2, is bathed by his mother at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Dagahaley Camp in Kenya, where he is being treated for malnutrition. UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the “worst humanitarian disaster” in the world.


Primary schoolchildren wait for food to be distributed. Relief groups have appealed for more funds to assist 12 million people facing starvation after the UN declared famine in two southern Somalia regions.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A young boy rests at Dagahaley refugee camp, which is part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement in Dadaab, Kenya. The camp, located close to the Kenyan border with Somalia, was originally designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people but the UN estimates over four times as many reside there. The ongoing civil war in Somalia and the worst drought to affect the Horn of Africa in six decades threatens the lives of an estimated 12 million people.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A refugee child drinks from a water container at the Ifo refugee camp, which is part of the Dadaab refugee settlement.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A refugee child stands on the outskirts of the Dagahaley refugee camp. The United States has pledged $459 million in aid and has called for global intervention to mitigate the massive humanitarian crisis.


Newly arrived Somali refugees stand before makeshift homes at the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Thousands of Somalis have fled into neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia in recent weeks and many have died of starvation while fleeing the region’s worst drought in decades.


Displaced Somali families receive food aid at an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp in Mogadishu. The United Nations on Monday urged “massive” action to save millions of people in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa region, as France announced donor countries would meet in Nairobi this week. “The catastrophic situation demands massive and urgent international aid,” said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which hosted Monday’s emergency meeting of UN aid agencies and charities in Rome. “It is imperative to stop the famine,” said Diouf, after the United Nations this month declared a famine in two insurgent-held areas of southern Somalia.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Somali refugee Kadija Ibrahim Yousef, 67, at her makeshift hut on the edge of the Hagadera refugee camp, part of Kenya’s Dadaab refugee settlement. The starving refugees are struggling to observe the traditional dawn-to-dusk fast required of devout Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.

REUTERS/Katherine Bundra Roux/IFRC/Handout

Women in Djibouti gather to discuss their needs with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Djibouti Red Crescent assessment team in a drought-affected area near Dikhil, southern Djibouti. Some 12.4 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti are already in dire need of help due to the worst drought in 60 years.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A Somalian refugee collects sand for building material on the edge of the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. One aid group says the number of refugees is so high there is a backlog of 16,000 people who have to live in the bush outside the refugee camps.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A Somalian refugee digs a latrine outside the IFO refugee camp, part of the Dadaab refugee settlement.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Somalian refugees wait to be registered with the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Somalian refugees return from collecting water at the edge of the Dagahaley refugee camp.

REUTERS/Jakob Dall/Danish Red Cross/Handout

A man leads a donkey transporting water in Barmil. The drought in Somalia threatens to spread to a wide swathe of eastern Africa including Kenya and Ethiopia. The United Nations says two regions of southern Somalia are suffering the worst famine in 20 years, with 3.7 million people facing starvation.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Somalian refugees wait for a bus to transport them from the IFO camp registration centre to the Dagahaley refugee camp.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Newly-arrived refugees escape a cloud of dust at the Dagahaley refugee camp. Britain’s Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell on Saturday visited Dadaab refugee camps, where he met displaced families forced to leave their homes in Somalia in order to survive.

REUTERS/Barry Malone

An aid worker using an iPad films the rotting carcass of a cow in Wajir near the Kenya-Somalia border. Since drought gripped the Horn of Africa, and especially since famine was declared in parts of Somalia, the international aid industry has swept in and out of refugee camps and remote hamlets in branded planes and snaking lines of white 4x4s. This humanitarian, diplomatic and media circus is necessary every time people go hungry in Africa, analysts say, because governments — both African and foreign — rarely respond early enough to looming catastrophes. Combine that with an often simplistic explanation of the causes of famine, and a growing band of aid critics say parts of Africa are doomed to a never-ending cycle of ignored early warnings, media appeals and emergency UN feeding — rather than a transition to lasting self-sufficiency.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Another day comes to an end at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border. The whole of drought- and conflict-wracked southern Somalia is heading into famine as the Horn of Africa food crisis deepens, the United Nations said

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