More misery for Somalia's famine refugees

Tens of thousands of famine-stricken Somali refugees were cold and drenched on July 31 after torrential rains pounded their makeshift structures in Mogadishu, as the U.N. raised concerns that renewed conflict in the country may jeopardise relief work.

Rains are needed to plant crops and alleviate the drought that has lead to famine in Somalia, but added to the misery of many refugees who live in structures made of sticks, flattened milk cans and pieces of cloth.

The drought and the famine it has caused in Somalia have affected more than 11.5 million people in the Horn of Africa and created a triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet. Meanwhile, the contrast between the squalid, insecure outskirts of sprawling camps and the empty, silent facilities shows how regional politics can interfere with aid efforts, causing millions of dollars to be wasted and leaving women and children vulnerable to attack. Somali women are now coming forward to say that they have been assaulted by deserters from Somali forces across the border and Kenyan bandits who rob the stream of refugees. Kenyan officials say they consider the influx of Somalis a security risk because part of the country is held by al-Qaeda linked rebels. — AP

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