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Timiro Moalim Mohamed's home in southern Somalia was first burned down in 1996, during the country's civil war. She returned in October 1999, hoping to settle back into a life of farming with her husband and five children. Within a few months, however, she was on the move again. Only this time, she wasn't fleeing the violence of war. Instead, it was the quiet danger of drought.
By January of this year all their livestock -- 40 camels, 10 cows and 60 goats -- were dead. Timiro's husband left the family to seek relief in Ethiopia. Under constant threat of starvation, the family now depends on relief assistance for survival. Her usual day consists of waiting for food from agencies such as the World Food Programme and UNICEF, along with occasional trips to a field clinic to check on the condition of her children, ranging in age from one to seven, who are extremely vulnerable to the ravages of the drought.
The story of Timiro, 35, and her children is representative of the conditions enveloping parts of Somalia and the entire Horn of Africa region. Today, 750,000 Somalis are experiencing food and water shortages, including some 300,000 malnourished children under five. Moreover, Somalia has been without a central government for nine years and suffers continued civil strife. It is still recovering from the 1991-2 famine, which killed more than 200,000. With concerted efforts by both local and international relief organizations, Timiro, her children, and the rest of Somalia will be spared another famine. The next few months remain critical.
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