When small children starve

The Swiss photojournalist Pascal Mora has just returned from Somaliland where he witnessed the impact of the famine. He was reporting for Swiss tabloid newspaper Blick.

Balz Rigendinger

In an interview with swissinfo.ch, Mora said he felt that hunger is to a certain extent an abstract subject. "When we're hungry, we eat. When we're thirsty, we turn on the tap. But there, they only have an empty yellow canister and they have to find a way to fill it. Or there's nothing because the truck [with water] didn't arrive."

Mora travelled through Somaliland with the charity 'Save the Children' which brought water to the villages. However, he says these deliveries were only secured financially for two weeks at a time. He thinks this will change now thanks to this week's pledges from the Swiss Solidarity foundation.


He visited mobile clinics which had been recently set up to provide basic medical services. He was moved by the children who had barely escaped death and had to be fed intravenously. 

"We met a mother there, Halimo (picture four in the gallery), who was desparate because her weak child could no longer eat. She was crying since she didn't see a way out of the situation."

Mora adds that one of the problems getting aid to these people are the great distances between places.

"You have to drive for hours to get to the next village, or walk for days. The next clinic or doctor is not just around the corner."

He says climate change has hit the region hard, since there had been insufficient rains for the past three years. People invest what they have in livestock. "You see dead animals wherever you go and the stench is unbearable. Unimaginable numbers of dead goats. The people say 'it's bad when the goats die, but it's a disaster when the camels die'. We saw some dead camels."

The United Nations says 20 million people are facing starvation in Somaliland due to the drought. Mora says he can believe that having seen 18-month-old infants on the verge of death.

"We're going to have to deal a lot more with the impact of climate change. We may have to re-think this region - abandon villages, build cities, I don't know. At the moment, continuing to make donations is the only thing that can help.

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