Ogaden (currently mapped as eastern region of Ethiopia) is a semi-desert land with limited rainfall seasons. Unlike other countries, Ogaden’s population is heavily dependent on seasonal rainfall. Ogaden’s drought started last year in 2016 when the spring rains, normally due in March, failed to arrive. Followed by a dry summer, which is normally the rainy season, the nomadic people suffered a heavy toll on livestock and lives. By November cholera broke out which led to the death of at least 4200 people. Drought-related famine in Ogaden is not unusual. However, the current drought coupled with cholera has worsened the situation. Starving and weakened bodies are vulnerable to diseases leading to high death counts in the region.

Ethiopia, which is an occupying force in Ogaden denies that there is a humanitarian disaster and has allowed for the steady death of 5000 people over four months.
People in both urban and rural areas are suffering. Camel herders, in particular, have been hard hit and have been found dead in the open land and deep within the territory where they are without any direct communication. The hardest part is that relatives find out weeks or months later that the herders have died along with the camels and other livestock.
As Ogaden remains under Ethiopian occupation it is extremely difficult to gather a comprehensive report as the Ethiopian government regards the people as a threat to their interests, thus denies access to the region. Strong censorship is in place to prevent any information leaking.
The Ogaden Somali community can confirm that 4200 people have died from cholera diseases between November 2016 and18 March 2017. The areas we managed to get the correct figures are Jarrar, Nogob and Qorahaey Provinces. The breakdown figures are as follows: Jarar has the highest death toll at more than 2000 people. Qorahay is the second largest death toll of about 1500. So far the lowest fatalities is in Nogob where the virus broke out in March. However, tens of thousands have been affected but there is no medical care or humanitarian emergency response intervention.
A blockade has been in place for 10 years and Ogaden is described as a no-go zone by Ethiopia’s despotic regimes they intend to counter dissidence.
With regard to the above, the Ogaden Somali community of South Africa would like to appeal to the Africa Union (AU), the international community and other regional bodies to assist and extend a helping hand to the oppressed and occupied people of Ogaden region who have no government that can stand for them.

Mohamed Dahir Adan
Director Ogaden Somali Community in South Africa


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