Enfield woman’s fears for Somalia famine

Campaigner Amal Abdirahman is desperately seeking international help for her home country, reports James Cracknell

Amal Abdirahman is campaigning to become the first female president of Somalia
Amal Abdirahman had been campaigning to become the first female president of Somalia

A woman from Enfield Island Village says she fears that millions could die in her home nation as a severe drought combines with continued armed conflict there.

Earlier this year human rights campaigner Amal Abdirahman had been hoping to stand in Somalia’s presidential election, but the high cost of submitting a nomination – around £30,000 – eventually dissuaded her.

Now Amal, who has cancelled her plans to return to Somalia, fears the country is on the verge of a catastrophic famine, with little international help forthcoming.

Amal told the Dispatch: “The United Nations is not helping. There is a drought, four million people are dying from hunger.

“The Mogadishu government is taking the money while people are dying.”

A report from the UN in March this year stated that even before the current drought – said to be the worst in a generation or more – “an estimated 7.7 million Somalis were in need of humanitarian assistance”.

The report continues: “The situation has deteriorated, with the current drought wiping out crop harvests and livestock dying due to a lack of water and pasture, depriving many pastoral communities of their only source of income.”

The situation is worsened by the ongoing civil war in Somlia, which has continued for more than 30 years.

Amal is a big advocate of education for women and girls but she says the situation in Somalia has deteriorated in a similar way to that seen in Afghanistan under the Taliban, with girls denied the chance to attend school thanks to the Somalian parliament’s ruling party, Damul Jadiid.

Amal adds that healthcare provision in Somalia is so dire that women are “forced to give birth in the street” without the money to pay for maternity care.

She said: “I want to empower women and girls but it is not safe for me to live there now.”

An alternative democratic government currently administers a region within Somalia called Somaliland, which claims to be an independent state but which has not been recognised by the international community.

Amal said: “The Somaliland government is helping but they need money. The big project there is getting clean water to people.”

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