World

Somalia famine 'spiralling out of control'

The United Nations and international aid agencies are warning that the famine in Somalia will grow in size and severity unless the world community responds with more aid.

UN, aid groups make appeal for more aid for Horn of Africa relief

An internally displaced Somali family gather in front of their makeshift shelter in south Mogadishu in Hodan district. Feisal Omar/Reuters

The United Nations and international aid agencies are warning that the famine in Somalia will grow in size and severity unless the world community responds with more aid.

Oxfam said Tuesday that Somalia famine crisis is "spiraling out of control" and that donations are failing to keep pace with the level of need.

The UN's humanitarian aid office warned that unless it sees a massive increase in donations, the famine will spread to five or six more regions inside Somalia. Currently two regions of Somalia are classified as famine zones.

The United Nations said tens of thousands of people have already died in Somalia from malnutrition and more than 12 million in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti urgently need food.

The federal government said it will match donations made by Canadian citizens between July 6 and Sept. 16.

Some border guards prey upon refugees

Meanwhile, concerns are being raised over Somalis with new uniforms and guns, reportedly purchased by Kenya's government, who supposed to be guarding the Kenya-Somalia border against Islamist insurgents.

A woman from southern Somalia holds her malnourished children on Tuesday at Banadir hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/Associated Press)

But some are selling their weapons and are even preying on Somalis fleeing their famine-stricken country.

This new breed of gunman and the proliferation of weapons is making the trek from Somalia's parched landscape even more dangerous for thousands of defenceless refugees. They endure days- and weeks-long walks to refugee camps and their promise of food, but many starve along the way.

Some parents arrive carrying children so malnourished they look like tiny aliens, swollen heads lolling on stick-thin necks. Others arrive with empty arms, having left dead sons and daughters on the road behind them.

Kenyan police arrested three deserters from the guard force on Saturday for trying to sell their weapons, said Nelson Tatliti, the deputy officer in charge of the police station in at Dadaab, Kenya, site of sprawling refugee camps.

"These are the ones causing problems on the border," Tatliti said.

Aid groups operating around Dadaab say many refugees have been attacked by gunmen, some of whom may have come from the so-called Jubaland militia.

A Kenyan government spokesman did not return calls seeking comment. Kenya has long asserted that the presence of al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group that controls huge swaths of Somalia near its border, is a big security threat.

The south of Somalia — the part of the Horn of Africa nation that is closest to Kenya — is mostly held by al-Shabab. Aid agencies can't access much of Somalia because the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group has banned most aid agencies.

[IMAGEGALLERY galleryid=860 size=large]

now