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Returning to Somalia after famine

A year ago, one day after the UN declared a famine in parts of south and central Somalia, I travelled to Mogadishu with Concern’s chairperson, Frances O’Keeffe. A year later, we returned to Mogadishu accompanied by Tánaiste and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore. It was a brief but important visit.

Devastating scale of suffering

Last year, I saw firsthand the human consequences of famine: nutrition centres filled with severely malnourished children and camps overflowing with hungry people.

Still in crisis

The past year has seen major humanitarian, security, economic and political changes in Somalia. But, the situation remains very serious. Some 2.5 million people are still in crisis, dependent on the international community for food and other essentials. There are warning signs that the situation could quickly deteriorate again. Mark Bowden, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, ranks it as one of the three or four worst humanitarian crises in the world. 

A shared experience of famine

On a number of occasions during our recent trip to Mogadishu, Eamon Gilmore spoke of the links between the people of Ireland and the people of Somalia. At the most fundamental level, the people of both countries share a famine experience. At the end of his visit, Eamon pledged an additional €3 million in Irish aid to Somalia. This was a welcome decision, given the ongoing crisis and the life-saving work that can be done with these additional funds.