The crisis in Somalia has grown so acute—with an estimated 3.2 million people now on the verge of starvation—that aid is coming in from some unexpected places.
On Friday, the government of Somaliland announced it was making its first ever offer of aid to another state. Somaliland is a breakaway region of northwest Somalia on the Gulf of Aden. It unilaterally declared independence in 1991 but has never been internationally recognized as a country. Nonetheless, the population of about 3.5 million people has its own functioning government, unlike Somalia, with its own currency, and national infrastructure that operates independently of Somalia.
Somaliland authorities said they will “collaborate with the international community” to help famine-stricken Somalis, reported Somaliland Press. They will also create a seven-member Emergency Humanitarian Committee to address Somali needs.
The situation in Somalia has grown worse in the past two months. Five regions of Southern Somalia are now officially deemed to be suffering from famine, up from two on July 20.
United Nations Humanitarian Affairs chief Valerie Amos visited Banadir Hospital in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday and described the scenes she saw as “heartbreaking.”
“The children are so weak they can’t lift their heads, while their mothers are in despair,” she said, according to a U.N. news release.
But while there are heartbreaking stories, there are also heartwarming ones. One 11-year-old boy in Ghana, West Africa, Andrew Adansi Bonnah, was so moved by the images he saw on television of impoverished children that he started a charity to raise over $13 million, according to the Ghana News Agency. Although he has raised less than $700 so far, he hopes to get businessmen and philanthropists involved. He has also met with U.N. agencies like UNICEF and the World Food Program.
“Now, I am letting the public know about the plight of the Somali children and setting up of the fund so that they can help to raise the money,” Andrew told GNA.