Map of affected areas:

Responding to Famine in the Horn of Africa

The BMJ Podcast
UNFPA Deputy Representative in Somalia discusses the ongoing crisis.

On July 20, 2011, the United Nations declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia. This crisis has caused the displacement of millions of people in the Horn of Africa. More than 12.4 million people need immediate humanitarian assistance in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The lives of starving children depend heavily on their mothers’ capacity to feed and provide for them. When a woman suffers from hunger and exhaustion, her children’s survival is even more at risk. Through collaborating with partners in the region, UNFPA is focusing on providing care to pregnant women and lactating mothers.


18 November 2011

Lacking Sanitary Pads, Girls Miss School in Dadaab Refugee Camp

DADAAB, Kenya — Braving the scorching sun and feet-baking sandy soil, with a torn schoolbag hanging precariously on her back, Halima, a 16-year-old Somali girl, walks to school in the camp where her family has sought refuge. Halima appreciates the opportunity, as she knows that without a good education, her opportunities in life are limited. more
18 November 2011

Saving a Girl in Dadaab From More Suffering

Dr. Khisa Weston Wakasiaka, a fistula expert working with the African Medical and Research Foundation, recently returned from Garissa, a city in the North Eastern Province of Kenya, where he performed several surgeries on refugees from Daadab, often described as the largest refugee camp in the world. more
21 October 2011

Helping Families in the Horn of Africa to Make Better Choices

In this commentary, written for the BMJ Blog, UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin explores the tradition of large families in the Horn of Africa and related challenges. more
14 October 2011

Twenty-five Children: A Safety Net in Kenya’s Poorest Region

GARISSA, Kenya —“I’ll have children until I die,” says Mohammed Abdi, a 56-year-old man who is expecting his 25th child. Mohammed and his family, which includes three wives, lost 200 head of cattle during the drought, which is affecting millions of people in the Horn of Africa. more
07 October 2011

Desperation Pushes Somali Refugees into Dangerous Territory

DADAAB, Kenya — Fatima knew that the journey from Southern Somalia to Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp could be very dangerous. “I had heard about bandits raping women along the way, or forcing husbands to rape their wives, but I had to get to Dadaab,” said the 22-year-old mother of two. “It was the only place where my family could get help. My children and I had gone to sleep hungry so many times, I just wanted to flee and get help.” more
07 October 2011

One Mother Delivers Triplets in Safety: Others are Not So Lucky

GARISSA, Kenya — While Hawa Ali, a 27-year-old mother of nine, was pregnant with triplets, Garissa Provincial Hospital in Northern Kenya became her second home. For nearly four months, the Kenyan woman stayed at the maternity shelter within the hospital on recommendations of health workers at the facility. An examination established that she was carrying twins and was too frail to continue carrying the babies without close medical supervision. more
07 October 2011

Encouraging Expectant Mothers in Dadaab to Take Advantage of Obstetric Care

DADAAB, Kenya — Amid the whistling wind and the rising dust, Hibo Yasin, scours the expansive Dadaab refugee complex, looking for expectant and lactating mothers. As she moves around the camp, Hibo receives warm greetings from mothers. She waves back at them briefly, stopping on occasion to inquire about how they have been and whether they have been attending the clinic. more
04 October 2011

No Direction Home: A Generation Shaped by Life in Dadaab

DADAAB, Kenya — Twenty-year-old Aden Ibrahim has never known any home other than an expanding camp refugee camp in a parched landscape once traversed by nomadic camel and goat herders. “This is where I was born and where I’ve grown up. Dadaab refugee camp has shaped every little detail about my life,” Aden says, smiling despite the hardships he has endured. more
02 September 2011

UNFPA Executive Director Promises More Support for the Women and Youth of Dadaab

DADAAB, Kenya — While visiting the world’s largest refugee camp, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin stopped to speak with Amina Diis, a 30-year-old mother of four who arrived here from Somalia, just two days earlier. more
01 September 2011

Crossing to Safety: One Woman’s Story of Arriving in Dadaab from Somalia

DADAAB, Kenya — When Fatuma Ali together with her husband decided to begin a trek from Somalia to Kenya with their four children, they knew the journey would be torturous. But it was one that they had to take. more
01 September 2011

UNFPA Executive Director Visits Kenya to Highlight Maternal Health and Protection Needs of Women Affected by Drought

UNITED NATIONS, Nairobi/ New York  — Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, is visiting refugee camps in Kenya to underscore the urgent needs of women affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa. So far, 12.4 million people have been affected by severe drought in the Horn of Africa. In Somalia, the drought resulted in 3.7 million internally displaced people. The world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab in Kenya, has seen its population soar close to 500,000. more
23 August 2011

Having Many Children Now Mark of Honour Among Somali Refugees

DADAAB, Kenya —The sun stares down mercilessly at the hundreds of tents as if daring the residents to a never- ending duel. For the residents of Dadaab refugee camp, it is a duel they have gotten used to over time. For new arrivals the blazing sun is nothing compared to their treacherous journey here. more
19 August 2011

Somalia: Cholera Puts Mothers and their Children at Risk

NEW YORK—UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, is alarmed about the increasing number of cholera cases being reported near Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. more
05 August 2011

Dadaab Population Swells as Hungry and Weary Families Arrive from Somalia

DADAAB, Kenya — "It is distressing to hear the stories of women with small children who had to walk for over 25 days to get to the refugee camp," said UNFPA Regional Director for Africa Bunmi Makinwa, who was assessing conditions in Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya today. Dadaab is the world's largest refugee settlement. Its Somali population has risen to over 470,000 people since famine has been declared in the Horn of Africa. The crisis continues to affect 12.4 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. more
03 August 2011

Horn of Africa Crisis Shows Family Planning Need

DAKAR, Senegal -- The Horn of Africa food crisis shows the need to provide the world's poor with better access to family planning as part of efforts to prevent future tragedies, the head of UNFPA said. The United Nations has declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia, where 3.7 million are going hungry, with over 12 million people now in need of urgent aid throughout areas including northern Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia. more