Amid a deteriorating humanitarian tragedy in drought and famine-hit Somalia, the UN is preparing to hold a special session to discuss the slow, complicated and dangerous nature of getting food aid deeper into the fractured country.
The UN’s food agency, the World Food Program, will hold emergency talks in Rome, Italy, in an effort to raise further funds and discuss the situation on the ground, which is immensely complicated due to the lack of a functioning government and the dominance of the al-Shabab militant group.
Somalia has been fractured by civil war for decades. It is only in recent years that an African Union military effort was able to win back the capital, Mogadishu, for the impotent interim government, which yields no authority beyond the city.
It is the innocent civilians who have suffered through the years of violence, but now a devastating drought has increased the suffering tenfold, causing death throughout the country and shocking famine in two vast regions of Somalia.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to the international community for help. The UN needs around US $1.6 billion to see around 10 million people through the drought, expected to last until September.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has been delivering food to around 25,000 people within one of the famine zones. A further 2.2 million in the country are in need of help.
The United Kingdom and France have led the international response to the crisis, with France calling the emergency meeting Monday in Rome. Delegates from the G20 countries will meet at the World Food Program headquarters to discuss the crisis.
The famine has been caused by the lack of a central government in Somalia, leaving the population with no protection or national leadership.
The country is under-developed due to a lack of investment, which has left farmers with no irrigation and other agriculture investment schemes that would have helped them through the worst of the drought.