Perched on the very tip of the Horn of Africa, Somalia has suffered two decades of hardship, violence and displacement. It's estimated that 25% of the country's population have fled their homes, traveling to Kenya and Ethiopia or to other parts of Somalia. Since the summer of 2011, the country has faced a crippling food crisis. Between 50,000 to 100,000 Somalis have died as a result. US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton called it "the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world today-and the worst East Africa has seen in decades."
Thanks to the spirit and efforts of the worldwide Somali Diaspora and other compassionate individuals, organizations and governments, relief is getting to people who need it. Donors have looked past the negative imagery of Somalia in the media and sent their support. That support has saved the lives of mothers and fathers, children, poets, artists, innovators, farmers, businesspeople, human beings. But there is still so much that needs to be done in Somalia.
The famine has ended, but 1 in 5 Somali children are still malnourished. 2.5 million people are still dependent on food aid in order to survive. It will take an investment of time and great effort to shake off the legacy of 20 years of war and unrest in Somalia. The country has the world's lowest rates of school enrollment, and experts estimate that 18% of children born in Somalia will not live to age 5.
Large Somali communities in Minneapolis, San Diego, Columbus, London and other cities are joining forces with their neighbors to keep assistance flowing into the country. They are providing lifesaving support to families still struggling on the edge, and they're reframing the image of Somalia and her people in the meantime. Sustained creative action is necessary to help Somalia recover and rebuild.