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Camels Dying, Humanitarian Crisis Worsening in Central Somalia

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Camels Dying, Humanitarian Crisis Worsening in Central Somalia

Posted by Maggie Fick on March 12, 2009

Camels Dying, Humanitarian Crisis Worsening in Central Somalia

The United Nations humanitarian news agency IRIN sounded the alarm bells about the gravity of the humanitarian emergency in Somalia, a situation that John Holmes, the U.N.’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, has called the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” IRIN reports that “hundreds of people are at risk in Somalia’s central region of Mudug” because a “severe drought has caused an acute shortage of water.”

Local Somali leaders and elders such as Yassin Mohamed Ganni are appealing for help, saying that tens of thousands of sheep and goats have already died in the Mudug area, leading many families to migrate to urban areas. Ganni said that the situation was so dire that camels had started dying in some villages:

Camels are the last animals to die and once they start dying, it is only a matter of time before people start dying…Our life depends entirely on livestock and if we lose it, then we have lost everything…

Indeed, the death of camels in other serious drought emergencies, such as those in Ethiopia in 2002-2003 and in Niger in 2005-2006 has historically been a bellwether for much worse things—widespread malnutrition, rapid deterioration in health and nutrition conditions, large death counts—to come.

The latest Somalia Food Security Outlook report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWSNET, confirms the fears of the Somali leaders and elders interviewed by IRIN and notes that “the current food security situation is not expected to change through June 2009, in the most-likely scenario.”