They say it could get as bad as the famines of the early 90s.
The worst drought in 60 years.
More than 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia in danger of starvation
The United Nations says famine could spread to the whole of the Horn of Africa within the next 6 weeks.
And yet, even with numbers like these, I wonder:
Is anyone watching?
As the hunger crisis unfolds in the Horn of Africa, we continue to be inundated with debt ceilings and the tyranny of our “urgent.” Yet does it get any more urgent than children hanging on for the last few breaths of their lives because they are starving to death? Un-fought for on the fringes of our world’s consciousness.
When I lived in eastern DRC I saw my first death of a child from hunger. A tiny baby boy, shriveled, skin slack, eyes hollow pools, collapsed in his mother’s arms. I stood in a humid room in Moba, warmed by the afternoon light alongside Lake Tanganyika in the Katanga province. I noticed the child struggling to breathe, and moments later, he was gone. The mother fell to the ground shrieking. Her voice rang through the corridors of the building and poured out into the courtyard. Her fingers clutched the white blanket, such a small mass of cloth, now cradling lifelessness. The Congolese doctor to my right looked at the mother, looked at me, and started talking to another patient, as if her grief was so common he could not take the time to acknowledge it. I had been the tip of this triangle. Mother, doctor, foreigner. The tears in my eyes forced their way out and down my cheeks silently, not wanting to disturb this mother’s expression of loss. The brutality of this death highlighted by our location; the waiting room of the only malnutrition clinic in the region. This child died on the threshold of help. For him, it was too late.
Will this be how we respond to the Horn of Africa crisis? Too late, too little? And as the numbers pour in, can we see each child as dignified, human, and not a contorted, deformed caricature of this word “famine” we, in our nation, know nothing of?
Congress needs to commit more toward food aid and we need to speak about this crisis and not allow our silence to perpetuate non-response.
To see how you can help, check out CNN’s article.
DTJ is committed to telling this story. If you represent a non-profit organization working in the region and want the story of your assistance told, please email us: info (at) discoverthejourney.org
// A child suffers from malnutrition at a clinic in Moba, DRC. The purple liquid is part of the child’s treatment in order to save his life. Photograph by Lindsay Branham.
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