Millions hungry as drought grips Somalia

A woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in Somalia by the drought. (AP/File)
Updated 06 May 2019

Millions hungry as drought grips Somalia

  • Somalia is enduring its third-driest long rains season since 1981
  • Close to a million children will need treatment for malnutrition in 2019

NAIROBI: Drought has left nearly two million Somalis in desperate need of food, a humanitarian agency warned Monday, as poor rainfall pushes communities to the brink across East Africa.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said hundreds of thousands of children were already suffering malnutrition in Somalia and millions had abandoned their homes in search of food in the arid, conflict-torn nation.

“The humanitarian situation has deteriorated at an alarming rate as a result of the drought,” Victor Moses, the council’s country director in Somalia, said in a statement.

The failure of the so-called long rains that usually sweep East Africa between March and May has caused widespread crop failures and heaped immense pressure on livestock-dependent communities in the greater region.

Somalia is enduring its third-driest long rains season since 1981.

The UN estimates that 1.7 million people are going hungry, with that figure expected to grow by another half a million come July.

Last week, the UN said 44,000 Somalis had left their homes in rural areas for urban centers just this year — joining the estimated 2.6 million internally-displaced people across the country.

Close to a million children will need treatment for malnutrition in 2019.

“The deterioration has come much earlier than seen over the last decades and before affected communities could recover from the most recent drought,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

But the hunger crisis could extend well beyond Somalia, with the entire Horn of Africa region at risk from drought and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.

Almost 80 percent of the population in the Horn depend on farming for a living, said the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in April that if rains did not materialize in May “the season will have failed and the impact on food security outcomes would be more severe than currently anticipated.”

The US-funded network warned more than 42 million people in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and nearby Yemen were currently facing crisis levels of food insecurity.

In Kenya, considered the most dynamic economy in the region, the World Bank in April cited the impact of drought when trimming its growth forecast for the country in 2019.


Turkey to repatriate most of 287 Daesh detainees by the year-end

Updated 21 November 2019

Turkey to repatriate most of 287 Daesh detainees by the year-end

  • Country has repatriation pacts with countries concerned but informs them before sending detainees back

ANKARA: Turkey will have repatriated most of its Daesh detainees to their home countries by the end of the year, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Tuesday, a week after Turkish authorities began the repatriation program.

Ankara says it has captured 287 militants in northeast Syria, where Turkish troops launched an offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia last month, and has hundreds more terror suspects in detention.

Speaking in Ankara, Soylu said Turkey was aiming to send six or seven more Daesh suspects this week to their home countries, including Ireland and the Netherlands. Turkish officials were in touch with counterparts there.

“The number of detainees to be repatriated by the year-end depends on how long the processes take, but especially for Europe, the process is under way,” Soylu said.

“I think we will have sent a large part of them to their countries by the end of the year,” he said, adding that certain countries that revoked the citizenships of their nationals were violating international law.

“They do not have the right to leave their citizens without a nationality. They have no such right,” he said. “This is why we held evaluations with certain countries on this, and they are taking them back.”

Turkey has repatriation and extradition agreements with the countries concerned but informs them before sending detainees back.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Turkey has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back their citizens who had traveled to the Mideast to join Daesh.

• So far Turkey has repatriated 10 German nationals, one US citizen, and one British suspected fighter.

• European countries are trying to speed up a plan to move thousands of terrorists out of Syrian prisons and into Iraq.

• NATO allies have been worried Turkey’s offensive into northeastern Syria could lead to Daesh suspects escaping from YPG prisons and camps.

Two Daesh mothers, aged 23 and 25, were detained at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on Tuesday evening after being deported from Turkey, Dutch prosecutors said. They are suspected of membership in a terrorist organization.

The women, who were traveling with two children aged 3 and 4, will be brought before a judge on Friday.

Turkey has accused its European allies of being too slow to take back their citizens who had traveled to the Middle East to join Daesh. 

Meanwhile, European countries are trying to speed up a plan to move thousands of terrorists out of Syrian prisons and into Iraq.

Turkey’s European NATO allies have been worried that last month’s offensive into northeastern Syria could lead to Daesh suspects and their families escaping from the prisons and camps run by the YPG.

Ankara, which views the YPG as a terrorist group linked to Kurdish insurgents on its own soil, has dismissed the concerns, saying the militia had vacated some of the prisons and allowed around 800 radical terrorists to escape.

So far Turkey has repatriated 10 German nationals, one US citizen, and one British suspected fighter. 

Ankara has said that suspects will still be deported to Ireland, France and other mostly European nations in the coming days.