Time to take early action before another Horn of Africa drought

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A global alarm has been sounded by several aid NGOs warning of the imminent but avoidable famine that could lead to the deaths of thousands in the Horn of Africa. The United Kingdom organization, The Department for International Development (DFID) reported that between 50,000 and 100,000 people, more than half of them children under five, died in the 2011 Horn of Africa crisis that affected Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The destruction of livestock, farms, and local market systems contributed to widespread starvation. US government estimated that the greatest number of casualties were among children under the age of five years. According to reports, in the 90 days between May and July of 2011 more than 29,000 children perished.

Save the Children and Oxfam, have both criticized the current emergency response systems operating in West Africa and the Sahel as seriously flawed and thus ill-equipped to manage the impending food shortage crisis.

"Early warning systems in the Sahel region show that overall cereal production is 25% lower than the previous year and food prices are 40% higher than the five-year average. The last food crisis in the region, in 2010, affected 10 million people," the report warns. (Source: Oxfam)

Burned Alive: Somalis Refugees' Flight to Yemen

Dead Bodies on Gulf of Aden Beach (Yemen)

France24 International News produced a report titled "Yemen, the new Eldorado?" This report illuminates the life of refugees who survive the dangerous crossing of the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen. Those who survive the crossing are only welcomed if they are Somalian.  Under Yemeni law Somalis are granted rights of asylum, but Ethiopians if caught are immediately deported. Watch video report here.

In the words of one survivor “we were 120 people, overcrowded; the trip took two days. We did not receive food, nor water. Some of us were placed in the hull. Several people died because of asphyxia, some others were thrown overboard, among them two children. In order to intimidate us, they beat us heavily with their belts. One of the smugglers threw petrol on us and showed off his lighter.” MSF and MSF podcasts: Médecins Sans Frontières

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