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Somalia Famine Extends Through the Horn of Africa

July 27, 2011

by Travis Mockler, Intern

Somalia is currently experiencing on of the worst famines in its history. The famine was officially declared on July 20 after it was revealed that an estimated 3.7 million Somalis – more than half the population – were in desperate need of food-related assistance. The crisis area now includes areas of Ethiopia and Kenya as well, bringing the total number of individuals in need of immediate food-related assistance to about 11 million. The famine in these three countries is regarded as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world currently occurring.

The UN World Food Programme has been forced to delay airlifts of food and other supplies. Al-Shabab, a terrorist group with close ties to Al-Qaeda, controls most of Somalia’s territory; other Islamist groups banned the WFP and other UN aid programs from the country last year, accusing them of being politically motivated. These groups control a majority of the country’s territory. Despite last year’s ban, Al-Shabab has urged the WFP and other groups to return since the start of the famine. Western aid organizations are wary of re-entering the country, due to recent episodes of violence against aid workers. In comments made to the AFP News Agency on July 26, WFP spokesman David Orr said that the organization was working through the complications posed by Al-Shabab’s presence and that the operation would likely begin this week.

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