It has been called the “children’s famine.”
The young are most vulnerable but men, women and children are dying in Africa’s worst famine in decades.
“We are hungry. We are thirsty,” said Ibrahim Abdiyow, after walking more than 250 kilometres to a refugee camp in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. “Some children died on our way here and we had to leave them on the roadside.”
New arrivals must wait for a place. The camp is already overcrowded.
In the worst-hit area in Somalia, 3.7 million people are at risk of starvation. Aid in the camp is in desperately short supply.
“You can see for yourself how we are managing,” said one female refugee living there. “We are suffering. I have lost two children in this camp and the three I have left are sick. We have nothing and we are hardly getting any help.”
The drought gripping the Horn of Africa is the worst for 60 years, some aid groups say, and is affecting more than 12 million people.
As the UN World Food Programme prepared to begin airlifting aid to Mogadishu, Somali soldiers helped deliver supplies on the ground. But much of the war-ravaged country is controlled by Islamists fighters who are preventing the UN and others from helping those in need.