Last week, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator made an impassioned plea for people to wake up to the devastating drought plaguing Somalia which has left millions without enough food or water.
Speaking from Mogadishu, Martin Griffiths said that after four failed rainy seasons, this was “the last minute of the eleventh hour to save lives. The clock is running and it’ll soon run out”.
Meteorologists are now predicting a fifth failed rainy season before December followed by a sixth early in 2023. “This is unprecedented, even in Somalia,” Mr Griffiths said. “This has never happened before.”
The UN stopped short of declaring an all-out famine because of difficulties in gathering data on the number of deaths, particularly in areas controlled by the al-Shabab Islamist militant group, which continues to control large swathes of Somalia, Irish Times reporter Sally Hayden told the In the News podcast.
Hayden, who visited Somalia last April where she spoke to people displaced by the drought, said many had lost family members to hunger and exhaustion, but that their deaths had not been officially recorded.
The UN and civil society groups have been warning of this famine for months, and yet, most of the aid and support that was requested has not yet arrived.
Somalia, a country which produces very low carbon emissions, is said to be one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change on the planet.
Why are we, in the wealthy global north, turning a blind eye to this climate-related human disaster unfolding across the Horn of Africa?
And how common will these devastating droughts become as the climate crisis continues to wreak havoc across the world?
Today, on In the News, Sally Hayden and Trócaire chief executive Caoimhe de Barra discuss how famine has already reached Somalia and how this prolonged drought is destroying millions of lives.
In The News is presented by Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope and produced by Declan Conlan, Suzanne Brennan and Aideen Finnegan.