Don't miss




Rwandan president given green light for third term

Read more


Sarkozy's son is an "absolute gun lover"

Read more


FIFA's House of Cards (part2)

Read more


FIFA's House of Cards (part1)

Read more


Oregon shooting: Gun culture in the United States

Read more


Canada's methods of Islamist deradicalization

Read more


Climate change: Who will pay for developing countries?

Read more


NYT: 'Is Vladimir Putin trying to teach the West a lesson in Syria?'

Read more


Britain and the EU: Should it stay or should it go?

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time.



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



2015-10-02 South Africa

Video: Farmers living in fear in South Africa

In South Africa, violence in the big cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg or Cape Town often makes the front pages of the newspapers, but crime that is terrorising countryside...

Read more

2015-09-24 Italy

Video: The children of Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia

The 'Ndrangheta, or Calabrian mafia, is one of the most powerful criminal organisations in the world. Its annual turnover is estimated at tens of billions of euros. Nicknamed...

Read more

2015-09-18 migrants

Video: The journey to exile, from Greece to France

The migrant crisis is an issue set to plague Europe for years to come. FRANCE 24 dispatched Fernande van Tets, Karim Hakiki and Adel Gastel to cover the issue first hand, and...

Read more

2015-09-11 Algeria

Algeria's rugby pioneers seek international recognition

In Algeria, rugby is largely sidelined by the nation’s favourite sport: football. But thanks to the determination of a few avid players, Algeria has now formed a national rugby...

Read more

2015-09-04 Hungary

Video: Alongside migrants near Hungary’s razor wire fence

Every day, hundreds of migrants set off on the so-called Balkan route, one of the busiest irregular passages to Europe. Although longer, but less dangerous than that across the...

Read more