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Somali famine worsens amid signs of plenty.doc

Somali famine worsens amid signs of plenty.doc

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Published by etimms5543
Somali famine leaves many starving while others sell luxury items.
Somali famine leaves many starving while others sell luxury items.

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Published by: etimms5543 on Oct 28, 2013
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Publication: THE DALLAS MORNING NEWSPubDate: 9/6/1992Head: Somali famine worsens amid signs of plenty Officials say 2million facing death within weeksByline: Ed TimmsCredit: Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning NewsSection: NEWSEdition: HOME FINALPage Number: 1AWord Count: 2097Dateline: BAIDOA, SomaliaBAIDOA, Somalia -- Dahaba Ali Aburahman stood on the dust-blownstreet, holding a 4-month-old baby near death.She offered her desiccated breast to the infant. Both mother andchild remained hungry. Nearby strolled a youngster selling a tray of dates dipped in sugar.Mrs. Aburahman, a herdsman’s wife, already has lost two of her fivechildren to hunger. Like thousands of others, her family fled the barren countryside in search of food.She does not know whether her baby -- frail, barely the size of anewborn, and with sallow eyes -- will survive.“God knows,” she said.It is a horrifying scene made all the worse by its ordinariness.Death is taking about 200 Somalis a day in Baidoa, and despite thearrival of food donations, the toll is getting worse.Until now, relief teams trying to assess the catastrophe of Somalia have estimated that as many as 2,000 people a day are dying of starvation, and 1.5 million could die within weeks unless they getfood. Now United Nations and Red Cross officials talk of 2 millionSomalis facing death and an unknown number beyond that. They say eachday brings news that adds to the scale of the tragedy.Refugees leaving remote villages to seek food aid in cities such asBaidoa, and assessment teams returning from areas previously unseen byrelief agencies, say starvation in Somalia may be more widespread thanever imagined.“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said Mohamed Sahnoun, the U.N.special representative for Somalia.
Surreal existence
Somalia presents a surrealistic world where mass starvation andsugared-date sales boys walk the same streets, where drought and war anddisease afflict hundreds of thousands while gunmen and greedy merchantsget rich.A global relief effort -- outgunned and overwhelmed -- has just begun to reach across the country. As word spreads that food is coming,villagers who had been sitting inside their huts waiting to die move on bone-thin legs toward Baidoa and other feeding centers.“We’re not stopping starvation; we’re only slowing it,” said Dr.Said Muse Aden, who heads the UNICEF office in Baidoa.The exodus from the countryside grows at a time when new cropsneed to be planted to break the cycle of famine.Somalia’s war and famine emptied Baidoa of its original residents.Farmers and nomads came in from the countryside to take their place.Since the beginning of June, one relief official estimated, the population may have more than doubled. Relief agencies now guess thatas many as 100,000 people are living in Baidoa. Some of the hundreds of Somalis who die each day collapse just outside relief kitchens thatoffer a chance for survival.Several miles to the north of Baidoa, a village chieftain set asidehis sword and hand grenade, his protection against bandits, to cleansehimself in preparation for prayer.He stood next to a shallow open grave that had been scratched intoa barren cornfield with arrows and sticks.For days, starving Somalis had walked past the body of a young boywho fell beside the dirt road leading to Baidoa. Village chieftainSheik Caliyoow Sheik Ibrahin stopped to bury the boy in accordance withIslamic custom.Afterward, Sheik Caliyoow, 56, the father of 15 children, pickedup his weapons and began walking toward Baidoa with his ailing wife toseek medical help for her and more food for his village of Goof-gadut.Relief workers have begun providing some food to Goof-gadut, butSheik Caliyoow said his village doesn’t have enough food or water. His people don’t like the limited supplies of rice that have been taken
there because they don’t feel well after eating it. They want sorghuminstead.Dr. Aden supports the idea of distributing sorghum instead of rice. In addition to the local population’s preference for sorghum, hesaid, it is a less attractive target for looting than rice, which iswidely consumed elsewhere.Sheik Caliyoow planned to make a direct appeal to relief agenciesin Baidoa.“We don’t need speeches, we need more food,” he said.
“There are no seeds”
In an effort to stop the migration of rural people to Baidoa, theInternational Committee of the Red Cross is staffing relief kitchens inmore remote areas. It operates 22 kitchens in Baidoa and more than 40in the surrounding countryside.A rainy season is approaching in about a month, and a Somaliagronomist said that seeds must be planted within weeks. But there islittle seed available in the Baidoa farming region, where emptyvillages -- and untilled fields cracked like a jigsaw puzzle by drought-- are all too common.A few miles from the roadside burial is a village of thatch hutsknown as Haawen.Its chief, Hassan Abukar Ibrahim, 48, said his village once hadherds of camels and other livestock – “too many to count” -- that wereall stolen by troops loyal to deposed Somali dictator Mohammed SiadBarre.“We are ready to plant,” he said. “But there are no seeds.”Until recently, the village’s population was dispersed more deeplyinto the countryside. A relief worker who passed through Haawen about aweek ago counted 14 people there. Now, several hundred wait for food.The Red Cross set up a kitchen last week that quickly ran out of food when hundreds of hungry people began showing up. A feeding center established by Concern, an Irish group that focuses on savingmalnourished children, continues to operate in Haawen and on Tuesdayfed more than 1,800.

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