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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Aid funding crisis hits Somaliland after 80 per cent of livestock die

(Mirror) - Tiny Amran Hassan howls in agony from the hunger pains that ravage her ­emaciated.

She is four but weighs just 21lb – the same as the average one-year-old in Britain.

Her skeletal frame is the result of a drought devastating Somaliland in East Africa, where rain last fell two years ago.

Nearly 80 per cent of livestock has died, destroying the livelihoods of families like Amran’s.

And 700,000 people have been forced from their homes.

Many walk for days hoping to find a scrap of land to farm.

They have no idea when they will next eat as the region – which declared independence from Somalia in 1991 – teeters on the brink of famine.

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Amran’s 70-year-old grandmother Mako Ibrahim has walked 30 miles through the night carrying her to the village of Abdi Geedi, where there is a mobile Save the Children clinic.

It is her only hope of survival – but now even that is under threat.

Donations which keep the clinic going will run out next month and urgent funding is needed.

Mako says: “It is only because we have come to this new village that Amran is still alive. It is better here for her because there are aid agencies bringing food, water, and medicine. God knows what will happen to Amran.

“I say all of the prayers I can that she will be well one day.”

Mako says her family once owned 200 sheep and goats, and 30 camels.

Now she has to beg for food.

She adds: “Amran is very hungry. She has been like this for three years. Her energy is very low and she almost always has a severe fever. It never leaves her body.

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“She can’t really walk – she only ever manages a few steps.

“When I see other children running around I wish it was her. But I do not know if we will ever see that day.”

Many people have only been able to survive thanks to the generosity of neighbours.

Garoomaale Elmi Ali, 53, runs a small shop selling rice and bread to villagers like Mako. He has given away so much free food he is nearly £3,000 in debt.

He says: “These are my friends, I can’t let them starve.”

People tell similar stories in villages across Somaliland, where animal carcasses line the dusty roads as a bleak reminder that death is close by. In ­Hul-Xudhunle village Rayaan Mohammed is at the mobile clinic. He is with his 16-month-old daughter Sayido Jama who is 18lbs, the same size as a baby of nine months in the UK.

Rayaan, 35, has nine hungry mouths to feed. She tells me that she prays for rain every day.

She says: “Most of the time we only have a little rice at breakfast. There are times we haven’t eaten for two days. I suppose we will all die if this continues.

“I had to stop breastfeeding four months ago because I don’t have enough milk. Sayido always has a fever and diarrhoea. Most of the time she just lies down. She has no energy to play. I can’t afford to take her to the doctor.”

Back in the capital Hargeisa, tiny Ahmed Dheej is being treated at a specialist malnu-trition clinic run by doctors.

This is where Save The Children refers its most urgent cases. Ahmed is 18 months but weighs 15lb – less than a six month old baby. His mother Leyla, 20, is being treated in a room down the corridor. She lost the baby she had carried to term because she was so malnourished her kidneys were failing.

She cannot speak to me through her tears.

Her mother Suri explains: “We lost all our livestock in 2017. My daughter doesn’t have enough milk to give Ahmed. She had a daughter two months ago but the baby passed away.

“We didn’t even have time to name her. She was dead when she was born. Ahmed has been here for three months. He has malnutrition and a severe fever and diarrhoea. He was sick for 40 nights before we could bring him here. People are suffering. We are in God’s hands.”

Aid provided by charities such as Save the Children is the only hope for families like these.

But it needs donations before its life-saving mobile health clinic runs out of funds in May.

Keyan Salarkia, Save the Children’s Conflict and ­Humanitarian Advocacy Adviser, says: “We have a genuine opportunity to break this cycle of hunger and despair.”

How you can help
Save the Children is helping the most vulnerable households with cash grants, food and animal feed.

Its water, sanitation and hygiene teams are reaching families in the hardest hit areas, bringing clean drinking water. They’re building and repairing community water catchment facilities, public boreholes and shallow wells.