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This Christmas, more than 7.7 million people in Somalia are facing a serious humanitarian crisis due to drought
For two days and a long night, Gabey Issak travelled by donkey alongside her husband and two young children to a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Luuq, Gedo region in southern Somalia.
The family’s home -Barbar Village, a rural settlement about 55 kilometres from Luuq town – became inhabitable as prolonged droughts destroyed their pastoralist way of life.
“Before the drought, we had a good herd of cattle, goats and sheep to sustain not only my family but also other families. We lost everything suddenly, and it was all about survival. We left our home after the long and devastating drought affected our farm and swept away all our livestock. This is the third consecutive season without rain,” said Gabey.
“We spent two days and one night on the road in a donkey cart before arriving here, and we didn’t have enough food or drink. The drought, and displacement, left us with no food to eat and no source of income.”
According to the UN, more than 7.7 million people, half the population, in Somalia are facing a serious humanitarian crisis due to drought. The dire situation has already forced over 1 million people from their homes in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock.
When the Issak family arrived at the Jazira IDP camp, they were all suffering badly from malnutrition.
Abdi, who was just 11 months old, was the most affected and he was identified by Trócaire staff as being severely malnourished. He was immediately referred to Akara Health center in Luuq district and was enrolled in the Outpatient Therapeutic Program with a weight of just 6.3kg.
For four weeks, Abdi received treatment for malnutrition where he made tremendous improvement and gained weight. He was transferred to the Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programme to continue with treatment until he continued to gain more weight.
“I feel so much better and calmer now that he is better than before,” Gabey said.
After his treatment, Abdi continued to receive plumpy nut rations and the family were given counselling during weekly visits by Trócaire staff. Gabey is now encouraging other mothers to visit nutrition outpatient sites and screen their children as well.
With support from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Kindermission Werk, Trócaire has provided treatment for almost 5,000 children who are suffering from malnutrition in Somalia. This year, Trócaire’s Gifts of Love collection includes a new gift – a Family Food Basket (€35) to help families like Abdi’s. The Family Food Basket provides basic food essentials and high nutrient food for malnourished children facing catastrophic hunger in the Horn of Africa due to the ongoing drought.
Paul Healy, Trócaire’s Country Director in Somalia, said that this Christmas families in Somalia need the support of the Irish public more than ever.
“While the cost of living may be the main story at home this festive season, it is the onslaught of drought, hunger and the impact of climate change that will grip the people in Somalia, especially in Gedo, where Trócaire has been implementing lifesaving health services for 30 years.
“There are at least 350,000 children under five years of age in Somalia in the same predicament as Abdi. They are slowly dying from lack of food, from starvation. The United Nations is warning that 6.7 million people will need food aid in Somalia in the coming months – about 40% of the population. The reasons for such a crisis are many, with climate change and conflict the main driver. The impact of war in Ukraine on food supply and prices is also a factor,” Mr Healy said.
“This is an extreme drought, the worst in Somalia in over four decades, the worst I have ever seen. It is deeper, longer, and more severe than previous drought episodes and, frighteningly, a fifth and even sixth consecutive drought is now being predicated.”
Mr Healy called on the Irish public to support the people of Somalia in any way they can this Christmas.