Drought, humanitarian crisis continue in Somalia

Over the last year, 800,000 people in Somalia have been displaced due to drought and famine according to Refugees International.

Part of the cause: climate change, says Mark Yarnell, Refugees International's United Nations liaison.

"It's devastating that a country that barely contributes anything to greenhouse gases is the most effected by that," he said.

Yarnell joined host Tom Weber and Mohamed Idris, executive director of American Relief Agency for the Horn of Africa.

The Minnesota organization has been working to combat the drought and famine in Somalia since 2016. Idris spent a month there last year, visiting camps where displaced people and refugees have gathered to seek assistance.

It's so dry in some areas that Idris didn't see a single human, plant or animal.

"It's just soil and sky," he said.

Refugee camps are filled with makeshift tents and lack clean water or bathrooms. Women are raped at night. There are outbreaks of disease, like cholera.

"Unfortunately, because of the scale of the crisis they're getting almost no assistance," said Yarnell.

Idris' organization and Feed Our Starving Children collected two million meals for Somali children. Somalia was hit with famine in 2011 and half of those who died were under the age of five.

Idris said that the focus of the relief effort should be in helping communities before they're displaced.

"We need to shift our mindset. We forget [the refugees'] life will change forever," he said.

Most who leave their homes for assistance never return, receiving support from their government or the United Nations and living in camps for the rest of their lives.

To hear more of the discussion, use the audio player above.

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