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Vol 52 No 16

Published 5th August 2011


Politics and posturing

People starve, aid is inadequate, relief agencies are spurned and the region’s insecurities fester

The Horn of Africa’s worst drought in six decades has prompted the United Nations to take the rare step of declaring a famine in two regions of Somalia – and probably another six regions in the coming weeks. The gravity of the crisis has been known for a year, with no effective international reaction. It could prompt political turmoil, mainly in Somalia and Eritrea but also in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. The region’s population has roughly doubled since the famine relief work of the 1980s brought food and medicine to the pastoralists and subsistence farmers of the semi-desert areas. Aid organisations say that over eleven million people now need emergency feeding.

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