The worst drought in 60 years has brought 12 million people to the brink of starvation. Time is running out to avoid a large-scale disaster.
Eastern Kenya is home to Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world. Built two decades ago to house 90,000 people, today it shelters 420,000.
And more than a thousand others are arriving every day. Why? Because the worst drought in 60 years is spreading across the Horn of Africa, in the continent’s northeastern corner.
At the epicenter is Somalia, where Al Qaeda-inspired Islamist group Al Shabab has been making delivery of humanitarian aid difficult. Already more than 29,000 children under the age of five have died in Somalia due to drought and famine. Some 12 million more Somalis of all ages risk of starvation.
Glimmers of good news can be seen. Al Shabab apparently has pulled out of Mogadishu, the capital city, which should make relief efforts easier. And the United States has made an exception to a provision in the Patriot Act that prevented it from sending aid to places like Somalia, where it might fall into the hands of terrorists such as Al Shabab.