Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Over a quarter-million Somalis died from famine, terrorism: Study

Over a quarter-million Somalis died from famine, terrorism: Study, Besides the hundreds of deaths each year attributed to the war against terrorist group Al Shabaab, far-reaching famine and starvation killed upwards of a quarter-million people in Somalia in 2011, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) report completed on Monday.

About half of those deaths in 2011 were children five-years-old and under, according to the report.

The effects of the famine were compounded with Islamic extremists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Shabaab, who viciously prevented food aid deliveries to the areas of Somalia that they occupied.

The Somalia report will be made public on Thursday by the U.S. government's aid arm USAID, and by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit - Somalia, which is funded by the U.S. and Britain.

An earlier report by United Kingdom government officials had claimed that between 50,000 and 100,000 Somali deaths were tied to the famine.

Somalia's terror group Al Shabaab has reneged on lifting its ban on aid agencies and has accused those who speak out about the famine of engaging in "sheer propaganda."

The United Nations in New York said several areas in Somalia are suffering from a deadly famine after the Horn of Africa nations experienced the worst drought in 60 years.

Al Shabaab, a radical Islamist organization which has ties to al-Qaeda and controls much of the southern part of the country, accused the banned humanitarian groups -- including Non-Governmental Organizations such as the Salvation Army and Christian missionary groups -- of being political in nature and not welcomed.

The U.N. insists that a horrible famine indeed exists and that the humanitarian aid must continue.

Most Western aid agencies stopped aiding Somalia following Al Shabaab's threats, though some agencies claim they have managed to continue operating through local partners.

Millions of people are said to need food aid across East Africa but Somalia is the country suffering the most, since there is no real national government to co-ordinate aid after two decades of fierce fighting.

Thousands of people have been fleeing Al Shabaab's territories in search of food and water, with some going to Mogadishu, where aid agencies are operating in areas controlled by the weak interim government, and others are fleeing to Ethiopia and Kenya.

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