Humanitarian world news: Famine looms in Somalia

Humanitarian world news brings you a weekly selection of events and trends impacting people and the humanitarian community worldwide. This week’s top news includes: famine looms in Somalia, a U.S. trafficking hotline sees a huge increase in calls, and Kenya’s high court says refugee camp closure is unconstitutional.

U.N. warns of looming famine in Somalia

Somalia is experiencing a serious hunger crisis, just five years after drought and conflict killed an estimated 260,000 people, half of them children under age 5. Five million people need lifesaving aid, with more than 1 million of them in severe food insecurity. During the last two weeks of January, nearly 57,000 people in seven regions benefited from World Vision assistance with health, nutrition, food, water, and sanitation. Last week’s election of Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is an encouraging sign of progress in a fragmented nation that hasn’t had a fully functioning national government in more than 30 years.

Reported trafficking cases up in U.S.

A U.S. hotline to help trafficking survivors saw a 24 percent increase in cases reported in 2016, compared with 2015, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported Jan. 31. Last year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 7,572 reports of people being trafficked for sex or forced labor. The hotline saw not only a large increase in cases reported, but also noted new types of abuse. Some people were forced to sell magazines, vacuums, or cleaning products door-to-door or defraud people of social security benefits by stealing identities. Set up in 2007, the hotline operates 24 hours a day in multiple languages.

Court says Kenya’s Dadaab camp closure unconstitutional

Kenya’s high court ruled Feb. 9 that the government’s 2016 decision to close the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab goes against the country’s constitution, the BBC reported. The directive had set in motion an effort to repatriate about 260,000 Somali refugees living in the camp by May. Government officials said they would appeal the ruling, because they remain concerned about security issues they say stemmed from extremist activities in the camp. About 69,000 people have left the camp since the government announced plans to close Dadaab at the end of May, according to Still, about 257,000 people remain in Dadaab. Established in 1991 to host Somali families fleeing conflict, Dadaab is located near Kenya’s border with southern Somalia. World Vision has long provided various services in Dadaab camp. and throughout Kenya and Somalia.

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