Many thanks to ONE’s members, our collective voice has helped raise UN Appeal funding for the Horn of Africa by $1 billion and elicit another $700 million-plus in pledges. If combined and fulfilled, these pledges would more than fill the $530 million funding gap.
While ONE continues to press world leaders to deliver on their pledges and deliver much-needed life-saving support now, many Africans in the Horn are far from in the clear. Although the regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle in Southern Somalia were downgraded from famine to humanitarian emergency status on November 18th, the situation in Somalia is still particularly dire.
Four million people remain food insecure in Somalia and 250,000 in Southern Somalia continue to face famine conditions. These conditions are expected to persist at least through December 2011 and depending on the favorability of rains in spring 2012, could be prolonged.
Displaced people face heightened risk of measles, cholera, polio, diarrhea and other diseases, due to malnutrition, close living quarters and inadequate toilet facilities. In Somalia, the number of children facing severe malnutrition nearly doubled in the second half of 2011. Cases of cholera and related deaths continue. Outbreaks of measles have been declining since September, but saw a small uptick in November.
The international community and local NGOs have resettled 4,000 drought-displaced Somali families (24,000 people) who were camped in Mogadishu. The returns are voluntary with most eager to take advantage of what’s left of the rainy season and start to rebuild their lives. United Arab Emirates-Red Crescent Society (UAE-RCS) in Somalia, one of the agencies involved in the resettlement process, is giving families $150 each in addition to a three-month supply of food, livestock and other resources.
A new two-part television program from Al Jazeera English, “Fault Lines” (watch in the player above) takes a look inside Mogadishu, where parents are burying their children and asking what more could have been done to prevent this crisis and what more can be done now. A very timely question as Al Shabaab ordered 16 aid agencies –- many of them from the United Nations –- to leave their territory.
After sporadic attacks and kidnappings inside Kenya’s borders by Al Shabab, Kenyan military forces invaded Somalia last month. The objective was to seize the transportation hub of Afmadow and the Indian Ocean port city of Kismayo, both important al-Shabaab strongholds south of Mogadishu. By doing so, Kenya is hoping to establish a buffer zone in Southern Somalia to prevent infiltration by terrorists and help humanitarian agencies in the region gain better access. Already Kenya has seized a few towns and is calling on aid agencies to return. Reuters reports that Kenya has been “plagued by a wave of attacks” since troops entered Somalia.
Ethiopia, despite the losses incurred from invasion from 2006 to 2009, is reported to be back across the Somali border. Although the Ethiopian government have not confirmed their participation, many eyewitnesses report Ethiopian troops in the town of Guriel. Little is known about Ethiopia’s intentions at this point.
What about the Somali government? Richard Dowden of the Royal African Society writes that with Al Shabaab withdrawn from Mogadishu in mid-August and “with the Kenyan military incursion in the south, presents the government –- known as the Transitional Federal Government -– with an opportunity to prove itself and deliver food and security to the people. But this is unlikely to happen…” He quotes from Horn of Africa specialist Ken Menkhaus “the TFG’s track record so far points to the opposite conclusion -– it has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”