The Bradford based UK NGO Muslim Hands has just returned from Somaliland after visiting the area to assess the situation in the drought stricken region of East Africa. The trip was carried out under the umbrella of the Muslim Charities Forum which incorporates several UK based Muslim charities forming the group. The delegation was accompanied by Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Diane Abbott MP.
Following the devastating drought of 2010-12 in Somalia where an estimated 260, 000 lives were lost, the region finds itself again in a similar predicament. The current drought is at risk of becoming a major famine if the donor community does not act fast enough. The UN has requested 105 million dollars of aid to provide emergency relief to the 385,000 people in Somaliland and Puntland.
The delegation was received by Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, President of Somaliland, and the mainstream National media. The National Drought Committee arranged for the delegation to visit several stricken areas such as Habaas and Borama, the main town in Awdal region which borders Ethopia and Dijbouti, and is worst affected by the drought. Here the delegation were able to visit refugee camp sites and witness for themselves the sad reality of the worsening situation.
After the visit Ms Abbott commented “Weather conditions like El Nino contributed to a failure of the 2015 rains across Somaliland and Puntland in northern Somalia. People are dying from hunger and thirst, and the impact will be catastrophic if the international community does not step up its response”.
Ever since the droughts of 2011 Muslim Hands have been operating in the Somalia region carrying out work in the areas of emergency relief, education, water sanitation, food security, health and income generation schemes.
Muslim Hands Aid worker, Sofia Buncy who was part of the delegation stated of her experience: “As you approach the camps it immediately becomes apparent that this is a desperate situation. The absence of water has resulted in the huge loss of livestock which was very much evident along the journey as we witnessed the bodies of cattle laying roadside. The people in the camps are truly in a desperate situation, and having travelled many miles (sometimes up to 70km) to arrive here, find a serious lack of water, food and shelter.
“Rivers and canals are arid and dried, trees are all but dying and the nearest water supply is many kilometers in land. Aid is arriving, but the areas are very remote and difficult to get to.
“The memory which will perhaps haunt me the most is witnessing several malnourished women trying to breastfeed their crying and starving babies with no joy as their milk stores have depleted.
“I would like to appeal to members of the public to please give this catastrophe some attention. Please help and donate so we can get emergency relief and build resilience for any future such droughts. Waiting another day will result in the loss of more lives.”