Today, #WorldRefugeeDay, the number of people who are refugees or displaced is at its highest level in 18 years.
Our December 2011 episode on refugees in Somalia:
Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government, the Obama administration, and the United Nations have all blamed the anti-government group al-Shabab for restricting international aid operations in the areas they control. But is al-Shabab the only reason a drought and food crisis has turned into a deadly famine?
In the first of a two-part series examining the US response to drought and hunger in the Horn of Africa, Fault Lines travels to Mogadishu to meet refugees who have fled to the most war-ravaged city in the world to escape a worse fate, and the aid and medical workers struggling to help them. We examine the legacy of US engagement in Somalia and its efforts to address the current crisis.
And the second part of the series is here.
Somalia’s Shabab fighters take to Twitter
Here’s the Fault Lines episode, “Horn of Africa Crisis: Somalia’s Famine,” that aired November 28, 2011 on Al Jazeera about Somalia’s famine and the US policies that may contribute to the unrest.
This episode of Al Jazeera Fault Lines, “Horn of Africa Crisis: Drought Zone” aired last night at 2230 GMT/ 5:30p EST.
The worst drought in sixty years has thrown more than 13 million people across the Horn of Africa into crisis.
In Kenya, those already living in the greatest precarity have been pushed even closer to the edge.
In the arid lands, deadly inter-tribal conflict is escalating as pastoralists compete over increasingly scarce resources, as climate change accelerates drought cycles.
As weather patterns become increasingly unpredictable, small scale farmers are struggling to grow enough food.
And in Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods, residents are reduced to eating one meal a day, as the price of food spirals out of reach.
As world leaders discuss climate policy in Durban, Fault Lines travels through Kenya’s drought zone. In the second part of a two-part series, we ask how US policies intersect with drought and hunger, and how the United States is responding to the emergency in the Horn of Africa.
All episodes of Al Jazeera Fault Lines are on YouTube here.
Images from tonight’s new Fault Lines episode (streaming on Al Jazeera English at 2230 GMT / 5:30p EST) from Kenya.
The worst drought in 60 years has thrown more than 13 million people into crisis. We ask how US policies intersect with this drought and famine in the episode (and we’ll post the full episode here after it airs).
“An aid worker using an iPad captures an image of a dead cow’s decomposing carcass in Wajir near the Kenya-Somalia border on July 23.”
Our new Fault Lines episode on drought in Kenya airs this Monday, 5 December at 2230 GMT. Last week’s episode on famine in Somalia is up on the Al Jazeera YouTube channel here. (Photos from that episode here.)
Dead and dying animals at the Dambas, Arbajahan, Kenya, which has dried up due to successive years of very little rain. Africa’s climates have always been erratic but there is evidence that global warming is increasing droughts, floods and climate uncertainty and unpredictability.
Picture credit: Brendan Cox / Oxfam
Picture date: 15 January 2006
compare this photo to this one from 2011 East Africa drought/food crisis
The pastoralists who inhabit the dry lands of sub-Saharan Africa are among those who are already living with the effects of climate change. Pastoralists have been managing climate variability for millennia. However, the unprecedented rate and scale of human-induced climate change is beginning to pose more problems.
The frequent droughts in recent years have meant that households have had no opportunity to rebuild their assets, including livestock, with many becoming locked into a spiral of chronic food insecurity and poverty. Reports from the Kenya Food Security Group and from pastoralist communities show that drought-related shocks used to occur every ten years, and they are now occurring every five years or less. A pastoral association in Wajir District in Kenya reported that their animals don’t have time to recover physically from drought and can no longer withstand the dry spells.
Pastoralists are used to moving their cattle, sheep and goats to follow the regions scarce rains. But droughts are becoming never-ending. People’s way of life - that has been sustainable for many hundreds of years - is now under serious threat. Communities fear for their future.
Molu Elema from the Marsabit district said:
“We are seeing profound changes in the seasons. There is less rain, and the rainy seasons are less reliable. Since 1999 the land has hardly recovered from the dry seasons. The pasture has remained poor. The seasons seem to get worse and worse each year
“When we were young, the Gabra had a lot of animals, with many many camels. But the droughts have affected us. There are three ways you can support your family when the animals are in difficulty. If you have taken children to school, and they are lucky enough to have found jobs, that is insurance for the family. Secondly, a few herders sell camels, but they are very very few. But most Gabra depend on the third alternative, relief food – food for work, or food aid. Last month we received some relief food, and we are expecting more at any time now.
“Perhaps the gods are showing that they are angry with us. That is what the elders say.”
More at: www.oxfam.org/grow
Or: East Africa food crisis
Amina Shakir (not her real name) fled the drought and famine in Somalia for a better life in Kenya. But she did so illegally, placing her faith in the hands of a criminal network headed by Mukhalis, or agents in Swahili. In the end her faith was misplaced as she was “sold” into employment upon finally reaching Kenya.
But Shakir is not the only one illegally crossing the border into Kenya. Natural disasters, armed conflict and famine devastating the Horn ofAfrica have caused an increase in human smuggling and trafficking in the region.
Shakir’s journey took her from a collection point in Somalia to a transaction point in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. She and several other girls made the over 1,000-kilometre journey in a truck under the guard of five men. “I was not alone,” Shakir said. “Other girls were in the truck as well, one man was also there. Our handlers assured us of our safety till we get to our destination … I felt I was in safe hands.”
But when she arrived in Eastleigh estate, a Nairobi suburb that has become an international business centre, she was sold into employment. She now works as a shop attendant for her “buyer”.
(Peter Kahare for The Guardian)
An aerial view of the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. It is home to 450,000 refugees, most of which have fled drought and civil war in Somalia. A further 1,500 people arrive every day. Read more about life in Dabaab on Global Voices.
Photo by Oxfam International on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)
Global warming already is causing suffering and conflict in Africa, from drought in Sudan and Somalia to flooding in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday, urging delegates at an international climate conference to look beyond national interests for solutions.
“For most people in the developing countries and Africa, climate change is a matter of life and death,” said the South African leader as he formally opened a two-week conference with participants from more than 190 nations. >continue<