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Somali drought crisis worsens

Earlier this month we wondered why there was little coverage of the massive humanitarian crisis caused by drought in Somalia. The good news is that the media is finally starting to pay attention, but unfortunately conditions in the region aren’t getting any better:

The situation is growing bleaker by the day, with tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation.

Every morning, emaciated parents with emaciated children stagger into Banadir Hospital, a shell of a building with floors that stink of diesel fuel because that is all the nurses have to fight off the flies. Babies are dying because of the lack of equipment and medicine. Some get hooked up to adult-size intravenous drips — pediatric versions are hard to find — and their compromised bodies cannot handle the volume of fluid.

Most parents do not have money for medicine, so entire families sit on old-fashioned cholera beds, with basketball-size holes cut out of the middle, taking turns going to the bathroom as diarrhea streams out of them.

“This is worse than 1992,” said Dr. Lul Mohamed, Banadir’s head of pediatrics, referring to Somalia’s last famine. “Back then, at least we had some help.”

One major problem is that the Shabab, an Islamist insurgent group that controls much of southern Somalia has been preventing drought victims from leaving their territory, while restricting the amount of Western food and medical aid that makes it in.

If you’re interested in donating money to help victims of the famine Doctors Without BordersUNICEF, and Oxfam are all working to bring food and medical supplies to those affected by the drought. Also, the New York Times has a list of other aid groups here.

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