The human cost of the disaster: Awo covered in burn marks


The redhot poker did not help against the diarrhoea and vomiting. It just left hundreds of tear-shaped scars on a child’s already devastated body.
The world has sleepwalked straight into a disastrous famine greater than any other since the UN was formed. Awo Mahmoud is proof of this, as she lies there with her swollen stomach and burn marks all over her body.
With nowhere else to turn, the mother consulted one of the nomadic people’s traditional doctors.

The fact that the two year-old is in hospital is pure luck. A team from Unicef saw the girl on a visit to the village and immediately drove her to the hospital.
Now Awo Mahmoud has a tube up her nose and a chance of survival, at least until she is discharged. What awaits her on the other side of the wall is her previous life. With no food or clean water.
“How many others are there like her who never make it here, who die at home, dehydrated and burned?”

Dr Yusuf Dirir Ali is from Somalia, but he moved abroad as a youngster. He trained in Romania and has since worked in the USA and the UK.

He has now been back in his homeland for three months, working to save malnourished children.
What made him return?
“Guilt,” he says with a glance at Awo.
“How can I be anywhere else when my people are starving to death?”


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