Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Somalia’s Famine

REWIND revisits a Fault Lines probe into Somalia’s disastrous 2011 famine and the role of US counterterrorism.

About 10 years ago, in November 2006, Al Jazeera English was launched. To mark that anniversary, we’ve created REWIND, which updates some of the channel’s most memorable and award-winning documentaries of the past decade. We find out what happened to some of the characters in those films and ask how the stories have developed in the years since our cameras left.

In 2011, the worst drought in 60 years threw some 13 million people across the Horn of Africa into crisis. In Somalia, ravaged by two decades of conflict, the consequences were disastrous. Hundreds of thousands starved to death, many of them children.

In the midst of this human catastrophe Fault Lines travelled to Mogadishu to meet refugees who had fled to the most war-ravaged city in the world to escape an even worse fate, and the aid and medical workers struggling to help them.

Fault Lines sought to discover whether aid in this region had become politicised and whether Washington’s preoccupation with “terrorism” in the Horn of Africa had contributed to the deadly consequences of this disaster.

Nisar Majid, a food security expert and co-author of Famine in Somalia, talks to REWIND about the fallout of the famine and the current situation in Somalia. As aid agencies are warning that five million people in Somalia are again facing acute food shortages due to drought, have lessons been learned?

“The situation remains extremely complicated. You still have al-Shabab controlling large parts of southern Somalia and you still have an atmosphere, a difficult operating environment where counterterrorism legislation and the threat of legal action is in place. And where there’s a very kind of risk-averse international community who are worried about legal threats, reputational threats by their resources being diverted into the wrong hands … The situation remains very complicated and the political issues always take precedence in the end and it depends on how those dynamics play out.”