Starving Somalis Leaving Children on 'Death Roads'
UN airlifting food to militant-controlled areas
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2011 4:41 AM CDT
A malnourished child from southern Somalia stands in front of a makeshift shelter in Mogadishu, Somalia.   (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)

(Newser) – Starving refugees and their children from famine-stricken Somalia are dying on their way to aid centers, the chief of the United Nations World Food Program warns. Desperate mothers have been forced to abandon dead or dying children along "roads of death" as they trek for days, sometimes weeks, to seek help, Reuters reports. Food shortages caused by drought and regional conflict are affecting at least 12 million people in the area, and the UN warns that women and children are most at risk.

"I believe it is the children's famine, because the ones who are the weakest are the children, and those are the ones we're seeing are the least likely to make it," says food program boss Josette Sheeran. "We've heard of women making the horrible choice of leaving behind their weaker children to save the stronger ones or having children die in their arms." Some of the worst-hit areas are controlled by Islamic militants who have banned food aid, threatened relief groups, and even denied that a famine is taking place. The UN plans to airlift emergency rations into those areas.

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Showing 3 of 38 comments
Jul 27, 2011 5:46 AM CDT
Getting rid of the OGRE Ghadaffi is far more important for humanity than cleaning up the causes of genocide and mass starvation in East Africa. Remember the carnival atmosphere surrounding the landing of aid in Somalia in 1992, followed in October 1993 by the tail-between-the-legs withdrawal following the botched attempt at capturing the warlord responsible for its magnitude? Act when the cameras are rolling. F*** em and follow the way of profit and poll ratings the rest of the time. That's politics.
Jul 26, 2011 6:32 PM CDT
How did we let this happen?
Jul 26, 2011 3:17 PM CDT
“I’m like anyone else on this planet — I’m very moved by world hunger. I see the same commercials, with those little kids, starving, and very depressed. I watch those kids and I go, ‘F–k, I know the FILM crew could give this kid a sandwich!’ There’s a director five feet away going, ‘DON’T FEED HIM YET! GET THAT SANDWICH OUTTA HERE! IT DOESN’T WORK UNLESS HE LOOKS HUNGRY!!!’ But I’m not trying to make fun of world hunger. Matter of fact, I think I have the answer. You want to stop world hunger? Stop sending these people food. Don’t send these people another bite, folks. You want to send them something, you want to help? Send them U-Hauls. Send them U-Hauls, some luggage, send them a guy out there who says, ‘Hey, we been driving out here every day with your food, for, like, the last thirty or forty years, and we were driving out here today across the desert, and it occurred to us that there wouldn’t BE world hunger, if you people would LIVE WHERE THE FOOD IS! YOU LIVE IN A DESERT! YOU LIVE IN A F–KING DESERT! NOTHING GROWS OUT HERE! NOTHING’S GONNA GROW OUT HERE! YOU SEE THIS? HUH? THIS IS SAND. KNOW WHAT IT’S GONNA BE A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW? IT’S GONNA BE SAND! YOU LIVE IN A F–KING DESERT! GET YOUR STUFF, GET YOUR SHIT, WE’LL MAKE ONE TRIP, WE’LL TAKE YOU TO WHERE THE FOOD IS! WE HAVE DESERTS IN AMERICA — WE JUST DON’T LIVE IN THEM, A–HOLES!” The late great Sam Kinneson