The unending saga of human rights deprivations in Somalia over the past two decades have now been compounded by another humanitarian crisis. The devastating drought currently ravaging the Horn of Africa, compounded by conflict and the denial of
humanitarian assistance, has resulted in a declaration of famine in two regions of South-Central Somalia. Already in the course of the independent expert’s sixth visit to Somalia, in February 2011, the drought had taken a heavy toll on livestock and food reserves. The full impact of the drought can be seen on the Somali population, a large number of whom have been forced to flee their homes in search of food and succour. Deaths caused by malnutrition have been documented among new arrivals in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia and into Mogadishu. The United Nations has already warned that, unless urgent measures are taken to increase the response, the famine will spread to the whole of southern Somalia within the next two months. This should not be allowed to happen and become another blot on the conscience of mankind.
Apart from the drought and famine, the armed conflicts between Islamist insurgents and the Transitional Federal Government, supported by the troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), continues to cause deaths and injury to the civilian
population. Indiscriminate shelling and firing in urban areas, and suicide and improvised explosive attacks by the insurgent group Al-Shabaab, are the main causes.
Recent offensive has resulted in territorial gains for AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government forces. On 6 August 2011, Al-Shabaab announced its withdrawal from positions it had held in Mogadishu for nearly two years. Although Al-Shabaab has been
under military pressure in Mogadishu from the combined operations of AMISOM and Transitional Federal Government forces forsome time, its sudden withdrawal came as a surprise.
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