WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – Somalia-Two decades of conflict and Somalia’s most severe drought in 60 years have led to the United Nations (UN) declaring famine in parts of southern Somalia. In September, four million people – more than half the country’s population – were in urgent need of food aid and other assistance, and it was feared that some 750,000 people could starve if the funding and security situation did not improve. By November, the short rainy season had begun but the food security of IDPs was expected to remain extremely poor for the remainder of the year.

The famine was threatening the lives of many of the 1.5 million people displaced within Somalia by the conflict. Malnutrition rates among internally displaced populations in Mogadishu and Afgoye were up to three times the critical emergency threshold.

Despite the withdrawal of the insurgent Al-Shabaab group from Mogadishu in July, fighting between Al-Shabaab and forces of the Transitional Federal Government supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia, and between Al-Shabaab and the Ahlul Sunna Waljamaa’c group, continued to cause displacement, limit the access of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) and others in needs, and prevent the return of IDPs to their places of origin.

In October 2011, the entry of Kenyan armed forces into southern Somalia reportedly led to further displacement, as people fled in fear of confrontation between the Kenyan army and Al-Shabaab forces. A month later, Al-Shabaab announced a ban on the operations of 16 aid agencies in areas under its control.

Somalia is among the African countries that have signed the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance to IDPs, but its application will remain a major challenge for many years to come given the prevailing insecurity, weak government institutions and limited resources.