Almost 170,000 Somalis fled into refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia in the past seven months, some travelling up to 100 miles, to save themselves and their family from the famine that currently devastates their country. After nearly twenty years of civil war and two annual droughts, livestock and crops died off, causing malnutrition to rampage through the country and food prices to reach unprecedented amounts. To make matters worse, Al-Shabab, the militia associated with al-Qaeda that now holds power in much of southern Somalia, prohibits any international aid agencies from assisting the poverty-stricken Somalis (Raghavan). .
Although uncontrollable, natural elements played a huge role in the country's famine, the militia multiplied the effects by taxing the general public in Somali on food and other goods. In fact, this militia denies that Somalia is even suffering from a famine, but the United Nations has revealed the extreme condition of the country to outsiders. Today, the death toll reaches as high as tens of thousands. Those that are able to walk - typically not the elderly or the very young - seek refuge in neighboring countries. Kenya welcomes about 1,300 Somalis everyday, while Ethiopia receives almost 400 more daily (Raghavan).
Since 2009, al-Shabab began to prohibit international aid agencies from helping their areas of control, calling them Western spies or Christian crusaders. The United States' recently reinforced efforts against al-Qaeda and, in turn, al-Shabab, has made matters even worse, causing the militia to change its pledge on allowing foreign aid to reach out to the country. Then, al-Shabab imposed an extremely steep Islamic tax on crops sold in markets, making it impossible to make a profit (Raghavan).
The United Nations declared famine in two southern Somali regions last week. These two regions will most likely be joined by the rest of the southern half of Somalia within a matter of months.