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Displaced families in drought-hit Somalia struggle to celebrate Ramadan

As Somalia grapples with its longest drought on record, many displaced families are struggling to celebrate the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting.

Adan Ibrahim, a 64-year-old father of 10 children, was displaced from a settlement 30 kilometers from Baidoa, the largest city in Somalia’s South West state.

He told Anadolu that they have been struggling to celebrate this year’s Ramadan because of the drought and rising food prices.

“We lost everything because of the drought. The drought has forced us to migrate from our settlements to the urban areas. We are here in this camp but life here is different from the rural areas. This Ramadan has been very challenging because we break fast with whatever food might be at hand,” he said.

Muhibo Hassan Abdirahman, a 26-year-old mother of three, who lives at a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, said that her husband died because of drought-related illnesses.

“In my father’s household, we lost 80 goats, 15 camels and 20 cattle because of the drought,” she added.

She said that she could not be able to fast due to a lack of food. “I am not feeling well in terms of health and I am also breastfeeding my little baby girl.”

Petroc Wilton, the spokesperson for the World Food Program (WFP) Somalia, told Anadolu that the drought is now being reported as the longest in Somalia’s history; five rainy seasons have now failed to deliver adequate rainfall.

“This is overlaid with persistent conflict and insecurity that continue to exacerbate the impact of the drought. Somalia remains close to catastrophe unless our humanitarian scale-up can be sustained,” he said.

According to a recent UN report, 5 million people are already suffering crisis-level hunger or worse.

“6.5 million people are projected to face Crisis-level or worse food insecurity … between April and June 2023, with 223,000 people likely to face Catastrophic hunger … if the next rainy season fails and humanitarian assistance cannot reach those most in need,” according to the report.

According to the UN, an estimated 43,000 people died due to the drought in 2022 alone – half of them children under 5 years old.

Since the start of the current drought, there have been over 1.5 million displacements.

WFP said it has been “racing against time to avert a projected famine” since early 2022.

“WFP scaled up life-saving food and nutrition relief to unprecedented levels through the last months of 2022 and into 2023,” Wilton said.

He said although no famine is currently declared in Somalia, the situation on the ground remains desperate amid the ongoing drought.

The WFP spokesman said there is still a risk of famine in areas like Burhakaba and Baidoa by mid-year if the current rains fail and humanitarian assistance cannot be delivered to those most in need.

He said if the international community turns away from Somalia now, disaster is still just weeks or months away.

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