Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Concerns grow as hobby drone use increases

Read more

WEB NEWS

Buffalo residents share stunning images of the snowstorm

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Senegalese photographer's flashbacks to Africans throughout history

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande photographed with Julie Gayet on Elysée Palace balcony

Read more

REVISITED

Is Beirut still haunted by ghosts of the civil war?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Band Aid 30 - Hit or Miss? Bob Geldof in Hot Water over Ebola Single

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Deal or No Deal with Iran? Home Stretch to Reach Historic Agreement

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Football scandals: The ugly side of the beautiful game

Read more

#THE 51%

Ending violence against women: The dangers of trial by Twitter

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2011-08-29

Somalia: hungry in a war zone

Somalia is suffering the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world today, according to the UN. The population is forced to flee famine-stricken provinces. Some choose to seek help in Mogadishu, a war-torn city where humanitarian organisations are facing huge difficulties to help them.

Nearly 100,000 refugees have arrived since January. They live around Mogadishu in makeshift huts made of branches and rags. All have emaciated faces, with glazed expressions, washed out by hunger and endless days of walking under a blazing sun.


They all tell the same story: farms made barren by the worst drought in 60 years, animals starving to death one after the other, humanitarian aid blocked by Al-Shabaab, the first deaths in the village. And then the decision to abandon everything, and to flee on an empty stomach to avoid starvation.


In Mogadishu, they thought they would find help; food distribution, and a real chance to find a new life. However, more often, there is nothing, except for the daily violence of a city which has been plagued by civil war for over 20 years.


Mogadishu is hell. It is one of the most dangerous places on Earth where gunmen belonging to rival clans clash in the streets with assault rifles, for just a few bags of grain. In this context, humanitarian agencies are struggling to operate.


Gunmen cause havoc in camps


The warehouses of the World Food Programme (WFP) are full. Boxes of medicine and food are being unloaded all day long at the airport. The problem is distributing the aid. On the 5th of August, a large distribution of dry food was organised, but it ended in a gunfight. Several refugees where killed and the attackers left with truckloads of food.

In Mogadishu, foreign aid workers are targets, as food is a valuable commodity. The only solution is to rely on local partners who themselves take great risks to ensure that aid reaches those in need.


When aid distribution finally occurs, the beneficiaries themselves can find themsleves being attacked. In Badbado camp, many displaced told us they were forced to hand over the food they had been given to armed men. The camps have grown so rapidly they have become uncontrollable: insecurity is all-invasive.


The only solution humanitarian agencies have found to avoid violence is so-called “wet feeding”. The idea is to distribute cooked food. The refugees are given a meal that is ready to eat and has almost no market value. The problem is that they have to return every day and queue for hours to feed their families.


Al-Shabaab withdraw, violence remains


On the 6th of August, Al-Shabaab radical Islamist insurgents withdrew from Mogadishu. Up to that point, the fighting had been almost daily between them and the forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government which is recognised by the international community.


Since then, soldiers of the Somali army, and AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping force, have been deployed in former Al-Shabaab strongholds. With this withdrawal, the humanitarian organisations hope to intensify their programmes. But the city still isn’t safe. Pockets of insurgency are still hiding in some neighbourhoods and Al-Shabaab have announced that they are operating a tactical retreat, and that they intend to change their strategy, most probably shifting to terrorist guerrilla tactics. If they carry out their threats, Mogadishu could become a city even more dangerous than when the frontlines were clearly defined.


Famine has already killed tens of thousands of people in Somalia. According to the FAO, 3.7 million people are in crisis across the country, and 3.2 million are in need of immediate help to survive.

By James ANDRE

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-11-21 National Front party (France)

France’s National Front in the spotlight

With the National Front on the rise in France, our reporters returned to three towns where the far-right party’s mayoral candidates won the most recent local elections.

Read more

2014-11-14 Somalia

Somaliland: A would-be nation state

In the eyes of the international community, Somaliland is an autonomous region in Somalia, on the Horn of Africa. But most of its 3.5 million inhabitants do not consider the...

Read more

2014-11-07 Liberia

Liberia: The daily threat of Ebola

Liberia is one of the countries most affected by the outbreak of Ebola, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Read more

2014-10-31 Mexico

USA - Mexico: A danger-ridden border

It’s one of the most porous borders in the world. Each month, abetted by smugglers working with drug cartels, thousands of Hispanic immigrants try to cross the frontier between...

Read more

2014-10-24 Spain

Why does Catalonia want to leave Spain?

On November 9, 2014, Catalans were due to vote in a referendum on independence. But the poll was cancelled by the Constitutional Court after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s...

Read more