Africa

Somalia: 26 'starve to death' in drought

An elderly woman weakened by hunger lies on the ground as her daughter watches over her at a camp for the internally displaced on the outskirts of Baidoa town, the capital of Bay region of south-western Somalia Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many families have been leaving drought-hit areas

At least 26 people have died of starvation in Somalia's southern region of Jubaland, the government-owned Radio Mogadishu website has reported.

It quoted regional interior minister and drought committee chairman Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein as saying the deaths were in the past 36 hours.

He appealed for emergency aid to curb hunger, Radio Mogadishu reported.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who was in Somalia this month, said nearly six million needed aid there.

The country has been gripped by a devastating drought that has killed livestock and caused rivers and wells to dry up and crops to fail.

Hundreds of families have now left Jubaland and sought refuge in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Ibrahim Abdow, 62, told Reuters news agency he had travelled by donkey and bus out of Jubaland.

"Our cows and farms have perished. The rivers have dried and there are no wells there," he told the news agency, while camping in the outskirts of Mogadishu.

Some of the new arrivals have been given food by residents, who have said larger and more organised food supplies by aid agencies are needed.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rivers and wells have dried up in parts of the country, so water has to be delivered by donkey carts or lorries

In addition to the international humanitarian agencies, Hollywood actor Ben Stiller has been among those trying to raise funds to help those starving in Somalia.

He has teamed up with social media stars to raise almost $2m (£1.6m) in less than a week.

The Love Army for Somalia campaign, which initially asked for $1m to fly supplies to Somalia, includes prominent social media figures Jerome Jarre, Casey Neistat and Chakabars, as well as American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

After their first goal was reached within 24 hours, they decided to raise their target through an ice bucket challenge-style campaign.

Ben Stiller has nominated Cara Delevingne, Emma Watson, Lewis Hamilton and American actress Alyssa Milano to donate to the cause.

An initial flight is due to take off next Monday with 60 tonnes of food, which will be distributed by the American Refugee Committee. The donations will also fund water supplies to drought-hit areas.

The group, which is raising money online, said Turkish Airlines had agreed to offer a full cargo plane as well as further deliveries to Somalia.

"This is the story of what can happen when the power of social media is leveraged for something good," Mr Neistat said in a YouTube video.

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