Human trafficking on the rise amid Horn of Africa's drought and famine


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)

In the coming months, Somalis will need all the essentials: food, water, shelter, and emergency medical care. Yet it has always been hard to provide assistance in Somalia, where conflict, violence, and lack of access for humanitarian organizations have been the norm since the overthrow of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991. Somalia’s fierce clan rivalries add another element of insecurity. Simple administrative procedures, such as hiring drivers or nurses or securing land for health care posts, require long, arduous negotiations that delay any response.

Jean-Clement Cabrol, M.D., MSF director of operations in Somalia, in The New England Journal of Medicine (via doctorswithoutborders)

It is important to remember that however plagued Somalia is, however routine conflict, drought and disease have become, however many Somalis have already needlessly died, Somalis are not somehow wired differently from the rest of us. They are not numb to suffering. They are not grief-proof. I’ll never forget the expression on Mr. Kufow’s face as he stumbled out of Benadir Hospital into the penetrating sunshine with his lifeless little girl in his arms. He may not have been weeping openly. But he looked as if he could barely breathe.

Jeffrey Gettleman, in a stunning piece in The New York Times on the crisis in Somalia. (via mercycorps)

Tonight’s new episode of Al Jazeera Fault Lines at 5:30p EST (watch online) focuses on how US policies affect Somalia’s drought, famine, and food insecurity. 

(via mercycorps)

We can confirm that more than 150 Burundian soldiers were killed in the battle. We can confirm to you that 76 of the bodies are currently in our custody and the battle lasted for about six hours.

Somalia’s al-Shabab fighters have put on display the dead bodies of more than 70 African Union peacekeepers they say they killed in the country’s capital, Mogadishu.

The troops, reportedly Burundian soldiers, were killed on Thursday following a battle with al-Shabab, according to Abu Omar, a commander of the anti-government Islamist group. (Read|Photo)