updated 4:01 AM MDT, May 24, 2017
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First direct flight from Mogadishu lands at JKIA after 10 years suspension

CS Macharia said before the re-launch of the direct flights, the Government security agencies formed a multiagency team which traveled to Mogadishu to assess the security situation of the airport/FILE

By PSCU, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 29 – Direct flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi resumed today with the first commercial plane carrying 49 passengers from the Somali capital landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) shortly after 1.00 p.m.

The re-launch of direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu was agreed upon at bilateral talks between Kenya and Somalia that were led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed during his first State Visit to Kenya last week.

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Somalia lawmakers approve new cabinet after challenge

By Associated Press

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s parliament has endorsed the country’s new cabinet, a victory for the prime minister after more than 100 legislators challenged his nominations last week.

Acting parliament speaker Abdiweli Sheikh Ibrahim said Wednesday that 224 MPs out of the 341 present voted in favor of the new cabinet, while 15 rejected it and two abstained.

Somalia’s chief justice has sworn in the cabinet members.

Some lawmakers had said the proposed cabinet went against the power-sharing formula that Somalia’s powerful clans agreed on previously.

The fragile central government is trying to assert itself in this long-chaotic country after the election of Somali-American President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed last month.

The international community has poured in hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years for Somalia’s political and economic recovery.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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Somalia :Somaliland Hospital Cares for Malnourished From Drought

ERIGAVO, SOMALILAND — As the breakaway republic of Somaliland grapples with a severe drought, medical workers are struggling to aid people left weakened by malnourishment and hunger.

A 70-year-old hospital in Erigavo, the capital of the Sanaag region, is operating beyond full capacity to treat people affected by the drought. And it's the only hospital in the region.

The drought has left tens of thousands of children acutely malnourished. In desperate need of treatment, they are checked as they lie on the beds in this stabilization center ward.

Ismail Saleban Bowkah, the hospital's director, said most of the children admitted for care come from rural areas.

"The drought forced most pastoralists to move from one area into another.Some came to the cities. But most of the malnourished children admitted here, are from the rural area," Bowkah said.

Aydarus Salah, a 14-month-old boy, weighed just over six kilograms (13 pounds) when he was brought to the hospital from the Darar IDP camp. His mother, fighting back tears, said her son was suffering from severe diarrhea and malnutrition.

Dr. Abdishakur Saleban Warsame said Aydarus is improving and now weighs 7.2 kg (15.8 pounds).

"He was very weak when he was referred here. His weight and height were too low, we put him in the stabilization center as he was in the severely malnourished cafeteria," Warsame said. "The initial phase, he could not take the feeding or the milk, so we inserted the NG tube to increase his feeding, now he still has the NG tube."

Medical officials said some families in the drought-stricken area cannot afford to bring their children to local medical centers. But doctors encourage parents to make the trip if they can.

"In rural areas, sometimes families with malnourished children are not able to bring them to hospitals," Bowkah said. "So, for example, if a mother has 10 kids, and five of them are malnourished, we beg her to bring the sick children to a hospital."

The United Nations has said more than 6 million people across Somalia and Somaliland are in need of help due to the extended drought, which shows no signs of ending.

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Over 3,000 people a day fleeing drought in Somalia -NRC

The Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) latest data shows that 438,000 people in Somalia have been displaced since November, by the worst drought the country has experienced in 20 years.

“Over 3,000 people a day are being forced to abandon their homes in search of water and food.This is the highest displacement we’ve witnessed since the 2011 famine, and it’s spiralling higher each day,” said NRC’s Country Director in Somalia, Victor Moses. “The indicators are lining up dangerously with what we saw in the lead up to the 2011 famine.”

NRC’s Protection and Return Monitoring Network, which is supported by UNHCR, has 39 partners working across Somalia gathering information on the drought. The latest data indicates that two-thirds of all those displaced have fled from Mudug, Bay, Shabelle and Sool regions. Over half of people displaced are fleeing to three regions – Banadir, Mudug and Bay. A total of 63,000 people have arrived in Baidoa, Bay Region’s capital, since January. Almost 85,000 people have arrived to Mogadishu since November.

Families have told us harrowing stories of abandoning their weak cattle, of being forced to leave their homes to search for food and water. Halima, a young mother with 11 children, told NRC of the devastation she experienced firsthand in Belethawa, Gedo province: “I lost ten goats. One day they just started falling and dying. I decided to move away, as I feared that my children would start falling and dying too.”

The drought is inflaming an already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia. Half the population - over 6 million people - face acute food insecurity. This is 1 million people more than just 6 months ago. Children are now dying of malnutrition, while many more continue to be exposed to severe acute malnutrition if support is delayed.

Where food is available, prices continue to surge. They are expected to spike further in the months ahead, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Abdia, a 48-year-old mother from Dogob village in south-central Somalia told NRC she had resorted to begging for food to survive: “We beg for food, sometimes we take credit from shops. Now I owe some shopkeepers more than US$50. I’ve been borrowing water, rice, sugar and cooking oil.”

To make matters worse, forecasts indicate that below to near average rainfall is expected across most parts of Somalia between April and June. Cholera is hammering communities too. The drought is forcing people to drink unsafe water. Some 11,000 cases of cholera have been confirmed so far, while 268 people have been confirmed dead this year in areas where aid agencies have access.

“These are clear hallmarks of a catastrophe in the making, with devastating impacts to displaced families,” said Moses. “Now is our last chance to avert a famine. Donors have been generous and the money has started to come in. We are in a race against time to turn the situation around.”

NRC is currently on the ground in affected areas. We have reached over 175,000 people hit by the drought so far this year. We plan to assist over 240,000 people with cash support by mid-April. NRC is also leading a DFID/IRF-funded drought response consortium of five partners who are collectively reaching 450,000 people with a combination of food security, water and sanitation support. We are also coordinating an ECHO-funded cash support alliance to drought-affected Somalis, which will reach some 350,000 people. These two efforts will collectively reach an estimated 800,000 Somalis in the next three months. “I just hope that this will be enough,” said Moses.


Facts about the humanitarian situation in Somalia

    An estimated 1.1 million people are internally displaced.
    Another 1.2 million people are living as refugees outside the country.
    Over 1 million children are forecast to be acutely malnourished this year, including 185,000 who could die soon if they do not receive urgent medical treatment.
    Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over 73 per cent of the population live below the poverty line, on less than US$1.25 per day. Life expectancy is just 51 years.


Note to editors:

    NRC has spokespeople in Somalia and Kenya available for interview.
    Photos and stories of people affected by the drought are available here free to use.
    The Norwegian Refugee Council is a humanitarian organisation working in more than 25 countries globally, including Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has been working in Somalia since 2004. For more information log onto www.nrc.no.
    NRC’s Protection and Return Monitoring Network was set up in 2007:


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A dusty dirt road winds across a dry, stark landscape in Baidoa, Somalia

Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4

A dusty dirt road winds across a dry, stark landscape in Baidoa, Somalia. A drought widely believed to be exacerbated by climate change is sweeping across Africa. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

BAIDOA, Somalia — First the trees dried up and cracked apart.

Then the goats keeled over.

Then the water in the village well began to disappear, turning cloudy, then red, then slime-green, but the villagers kept drinking it. That was all they had.

Now on a hot, flat, stony plateau outside Baidoa, thousands of people pack into destitute camps, many clutching their stomachs, some defecating in the open, others already dead from a cholera epidemic.

“Even if you can get food, there is no water,” said one mother, Sangabo Moalin, who held her head with a left hand as thin as a leaf and spoke of her body “burning.”

Another famine is about to tighten its grip on Somalia. And it’s not the only crisis that aid agencies are scrambling to address. For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines — in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen — breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives.

International aid officials say it’s the biggest humanitarian disaster since World War II. And they are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
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One powerful lesson from the last famine in Somalia, just six years ago, was that famines were not simply about food. They are about something even more elemental: water. If there was any doubt, the recent news from Somalia or Nigeria should erase it.
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An elderly woman displaced by the drought in Somalia walking between makeshift tents that are now home to the desperate at a camp in Baidoa. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Once again, a lack of clean water and proper hygiene is setting off an outbreak of killer diseases in displaced persons camps. So the race is on to dig more latrines, get swimming-pool quantities of clean water into the camps, and pass out more soap, more water-treatment tablets and more plastic buckets — decidedly low-tech supplies that could save many lives.

“We underestimated the role of water and its contribution to mortality in the last famine,” said Ann Thomas, a water, sanitation and hygiene specialist for Unicef. “It gets overshadowed by the food.”

The famines are coming as a drought sweeps across Africa and several different wars seal off extremely needy areas. United Nations officials say they need a huge infusion of cash to respond. So far, they are not just millions of dollars short, but billions.

At the same time, President Trump is urging Congress to cut foreign aid and assistance to the United Nations, which aid officials fear could multiply the deaths. The United States traditionally provides more disaster relief than anyone else.

“The international humanitarian system is at its breaking point,” said Dominic MacSorley, chief executive of Concern Worldwide, a large private aid group.

Aid officials say all the needed food and water exist on this planet in staggering abundance — even within these hard-hit countries. But armed conflict that is often created by personal rivalries between a few men turns life upside down for millions, destroying markets and making the price of necessities go berserk.
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Mothers tending to their children at a cholera treatment center. A lack of clean water triggered an outbreak of the disease. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

In some areas of central Somalia, a 20-liter jerry can of water, about five and a quarter gallons, used to cost 4 cents. In recent weeks, that price has shot up to 42 cents. That may not sound like a lot. But when you make less than a dollar a day and your flock of animals — your family’s pride and wealth — has been reduced to a stack of bleached bones and your farm to dust, you may not have 42 cents.

“There is no such thing as free water,” said Isaac Nur Abdi, a nomad, who sat in the dusky gloom of a cholera treatment center in Baidoa this month. He fanned his elderly mother, whose cavernous eye sockets and protruding cheekbones bore the telltale signature of famine.

Scenes like this are unfolding across the region. In Yemen, relentless aerial bombings by Saudi Arabia and a trade blockade have mutilated the economy, sending food prices spiraling and pushing hundreds of thousands of children to the brink of starvation.

In northeastern Nigeria, thousands of displaced people have become sick from diseases spread by dirty water and poor hygiene as the battle grinds on between Islamist militants and the Nigerian military, which, when it comes to protecting the vulnerable, does not have the most stellar record. The Nigerian Air Force bombed a displaced persons camp in January, killing scores, saying it was an accident.

In South Sudan, both rebel forces and government soldiers are intentionally blocking emergency food and hijacking food trucks, aid officials say. Entire communities are marooned in malarial swamps trying to survive off barely chewable lotus plants and worm-infested swamp water.

While the other countries are technically on the brink of famine, the United Nations has already declared parts of South Sudan a famine zone.
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An ailing and barely conscious man being rushed to a cholera treatment center. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Scientists have been saying for years that climate change will increase the frequency of droughts. The hardest-hit countries, though, produce almost none of the carbon emissions that are widely believed to cause climate change.

South Sudan and Somalia, for instance, have relatively few vehicles and almost no industry. But their fields are drying up and their pastureland is vanishing, scientists say, partly because of the global effects of pollution. People in these countries suffer from other people’s driving, other people’s manufacturing and other people’s attachment to things like flat-screen TVs and iPads that most Somalis and South Sudanese will touch only in their dreams.

It’s not simple to get food and clean water into these areas where everything is dried out, yellow and dead.

Baidoa itself is controlled by Somalia’s fledging government and African Union troops. But just a few miles outside the town, it is Shabab country, belonging to the Shabab militant Islamist group that has banned Western aid agencies.

”The fact that people are dying near Baidoa and we can’t get there, it makes me crazy,” said Patrick Laurent, a water and sanitation coordinator hired by Unicef in Somalia.

After Somalia’s last famine, the multibillion-dollar aid industry thought it had come up with an answer to prevent the next one: resilience. It was the new buzzword in aid circles, bandied about at workshops and among high-powered officials.
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An ailing man on a cot, and a boy on the ground. There are not enough beds and cots for all the patients. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Aid officials defined resilience as the ability to adapt to sudden environmental or political shocks. Resilience programs included livestock insurance and better water management, especially in Africa.

Some aid officials never liked this term, saying it seemed patronizing, as if Africans were built to suffer. Still, the resilience subindustry roared on.

But just as many of the new resilience programs were being funded, these latest crises hit, one after the other.
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“The environment didn’t give time for these resilience efforts to bear fruit,” Mr. Laurent said.

Ms. Thomas, the Unicef water and hygiene specialist, said that during Somalia’s last famine, the deadliest areas were not the empty deserts where there was little food but the displaced-persons camps near urban areas where, comparatively speaking, there was plenty of food.

The reason was that the crowded camps became hotbeds of communicable diseases like cholera, a bacterial infection that can lead to very painful intestinal cramps, diarrhea and fatal dehydration. Cholera is often caused by dirty water and spread by exposure to contaminated feces through fingers, food and flies.
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A hospital employee spraying disinfectant in a tent at a cholera treatment center. The crowded camps can become hotbeds of communicable diseases. Credit Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Malnutrition certainly played its part; famine victims, especially children, were compromised by a lack of nutrients. They arrived in the camps from wasted areas of the interior with their immune systems already shot.

But in the end it was poor hygiene and dirty water, Ms. Thomas said, that tugged many down.

If rivers and other relatively clean water sources start drying up, as they are right now in Somalia, this sets off an interlocking cycle of death. People start to get sick at their stomachs from the slimy or cloudy water they are forced to drink. They start fleeing their villages, hoping to get help in the towns.

Camps form. But the camps do not have enough water either, and it is hard to find a latrine or enough water for people to wash their hands. Shockingly fast, the camps become disease factories.

Water, of course, is less negotiable than food. A human being can survive weeks with nothing to eat. Five days without water means death.

Different strategies are being emphasized this time around to parry the famine. One is simply giving out cash.

United Nations agencies and private aid groups in Somalia are scaling up efforts to dole out money through a new electronic card system and by mobile phone.

This allows poor people to get a monthly allowance and shop for staples like fresh vegetables, powdered milk, pasta, dates, sugar, salt and camel meat.

Cash payments are often better for the local economy than importing sacks of food, and the people get help fast.

Many more Africans may soon need it. Sweltering days and poor rains so far this year have left Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania parched and on the edge of a major food crisis.

At the cholera treatment center in Baidoa, which logged in more than 30 cases on a recent day, many people had little inkling of what caused cholera.

When Mr. Abdi, whose mother was nearly dead from the disease, was asked what had made his mother sick, he said the cause was simple.

It was the hot season. Newyork Times


  • Written by Abdullahi