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The famine in Somalia is fast becoming just another obscure story to read in the paper. Despite the fact there are still thousands streaming into Kenya daily for much needed relief, aid has slackened. The refugee camp in Dadaab is continuing to grow and Kenya is already reaching it’s limit in hospitality. They are already being welcoming enough but they do not wish for Dadaab to bourgeon out uncontrollably.
Although aid and relief is present, there is always a need for more. The United Nations have warned that 750,000 Somalis are at risk of starving to death in the coming months. Until just recently it’s not only starvation that awaits Somalis making the trek to Kenya, but also something much sinister.
The route towards Dadaab is littered with bandits and rapists, creating an epidemic. These people are already exhausted, starving, dehydrated and at their wits end. They are then subjected to traumatising torment by bandits and rapists. There are certain points along the route where the bandits will first stop and then take all the food and belongings they have carried with them. Further along, once they approach the Kenya/Somali border, more bandits follow. Often those who have already been robbed, will be raped instead. Most have lost their children to starvation and now must endure this treatment for aid and relief.
Some have found themselves awake naked in the desert with absolutely nothing. In Somali culture it is ‘taboo’ to mention rape. When it is mentioned, the blame is often being put onto the woman for putting herself in that situation. Though with events like this happening quite frequently, more and more people are beginning to speak out. We’re only beginning to see what exactly is going on out there on the way to Kenya.
Aid workers are already trying to prevent this. When available, they are driving their trucks and jeeps along the road picking people up trying to save them from the last few agonising steps. The workers there are already stressed and understaffed. The Kenyan government is also hesitant at allowing this to happen, not wishing for a new wave of Somalis crossing the border. The famine in Somalia is still in dire need of help and this will only be over when more help is finally given.
- Op-Ed Columnist: On Top of Famine, Unspeakable Violence (nytimes.com)