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Diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in the Somali Civil War

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Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)
A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)

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Somalia is suffering its worst drought and famine in 60 years. Getting aid to the country has been difficult because al-Qaida-linked militants control much of the country’s most desperate areas.

The U.N.’s food arm said that famine is likely to spread across all regions of Somalia’s south in the next four to six weeks. Famine conditions are likely to persist until December, the Food and Agriculture Organization said.

Across Somalia, 3.7 million people are in crisis, the U.N. says, out of a population of 7.5 million. The U.N. says 3.2 million are in need of immediate, lifesaving assistance.

 Somalia Famine

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A malnourished child in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 27, 2011. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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Kufow Ali Abdi carried the body of his 3-year-old daughter, Kadija, who had just died from measles at the hospital in Mogadishu, July 28, 2011. "I just hope they can save the others," he said, referring to his two remaining children, who were down to skin and bone. The al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape al-Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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A woman sits next to a child suffering from malnutrition at Banadir hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, July 28, 2011. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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Flies cover the face of a boy suffering from malnutrition at a hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, July 28, 2011. The al-Shabab Islamist insurgent group in Somalia is widely blamed for causing a famine by forcing out many Western aid organizations, depriving drought victims of desperately needed food and blocking starving people from fleeing territory controled by the group. The situation is growing bleaker by the day, with tens of thousands of Somalis already dead and more than 500,000 children on the brink of starvation. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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A boy suffering from malnutrition has a scarf cover his face to keep the flies away at a hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, July 28, 2011. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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People displaced from their villages arriving in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, July 27, 2011. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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People at a makeshift camp in Mogadishu, Somalia. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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People who have fled their villages build a makeshift shelter after arriving in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, July 27, 2011. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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A woman holds a malnourished child at a makeshift camp in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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Malnourished children in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 27, 2011. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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A child suffering from malnutrition is bathed at a hospital in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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A woman carries a child at a makeshift shelter in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, July 27, 2011. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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A malnourished child in a hospital in Mogadishu. The al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times) #

 Somalia Famine

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Soldiers from the Somalian transitional government forces patrol the border town of Dhobley, Somalia, Sunday, July 24, 2011. Some thousands of people have arrived in Mogadishu seeking aid and The World Food Program executive director Josette Sheeran said Saturday they can't reach the estimated 2.2 million Somalis in desperate need of aid who are in militant-controlled areas of Somalia. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam) #

 Somalia Famine

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Somalis displaced by drought wait to receive food aid in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, July 25, 2011. Some thousands of people have arrived in Mogadishu seeking aid and The World Food Program executive director Josette Sheeran said Saturday they can't reach the estimated 2.2 million Somalis in desperate need of aid who are in militant-controlled areas of Somalia. (AP (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor) #

 Somalia Famine

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A general view of the Dadaab Refugee camp in eastern Kenya, where the influx of Somali's displaced by a ravaging famine remains high, on July 23, 2011. The European Union Aid Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva has vowed to do all that is possible to help 12 million people struggling from extreme drought across the Horn of Africa, boosting aid by $40 million. The funds come on top of almost $100 million the bloc has already contributed as assistance in the worst regional drought in decades, affecting parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Uganda. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA #

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A dust storm blows as newly arrived Somalian refugees settle on the edge of the Dagahaley refugee camp, which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 23, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. The refugee camp at Dadaab, located close to the Kenyan border with Somalia, was originally designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people but the UN estimates over 4 times as many reside there. The ongoing civil war in Somalia and the worst drought to affect the Horn of Africa in six decades has resulted in an estimated 12 million people whose lives are threatened. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

 Somalia Famine

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A Somali refugee herds goats through the IFO refugee camp, which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

 Somalia Famine

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Warehouse attendant carry bags of goods donated during a funds drive by the Somali-community living in Kenya's capital, to aid Somali refugees in Kenya's north-easterly province at the Dadaab refugee complex, on July 29, 2011 in Nairobi. The African Union says on July 31 it will host a donors conference for Somali drought victims in Addis Ababa on August 9 as tens of thousands have died in recent months, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation. Somalia is the worst-affected country, with some 1.25 million children in need of urgent life saving care, according to UNICEF. This month, the UN declared famine in two areas of the country, the first time famine has been announced this century. AFP PHOTO / Tony KARUMBA #

 Somalia Famine

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Somalian refugees wait at the entrance to the registration area of the IFO refugee camp, which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. The refugee camp at Dadaab, located close to the Kenyan border with Somalia, was originally designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people but the UN estimates over 4 times as many reside there. The ongoing civil war in Somalia and the worst drought to affect the Horn of Africa in six decades has resulted in an estimated 12 million people whose lives are threatened. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

 Somalia Famine

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A Somali refugee woman holding a bag of food aid walks past those waiting at the entrance to the registration area of the IFO refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 24, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

 Somalia Famine

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Somali women and children wait for food to be distributed in the Doloow region, southern Somalia on July 24, 2011. The UN's World Programme Programme airlift of food for the Somali capital Mogadishu was delayed on on July 26, 2011 after efforts were hampered by last minute paperwork in Kenya. PETER MARTELL/AFP/Getty Images #

 Somalia Famine

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Somalian refugees leave their hut on the outskirts of the Dagahaley refugee camp, which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement on July 23, 2011 in Dadaab, Kenya. The refugee camp at Dadaab, located close to the Kenyan border with Somalia, was originally designed in the early 1990s to accommodate 90,000 people but the UN estimates over 4 times as many reside there. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

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A Somalian refugee digs a latrine on the outskirts of the IFO refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

 Somalia Famine

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An elederly woman sits as she waits for food ratios at a feeding center in Lolkuta, near Wajir on July 21, 2011. The UN's World Programme Programme was preparing on July 26, 2011 to airlift food aid into the Somali capital Mogadishu, but efforts were hampered by last minute paperwork in Kenya. An estimated 3.7 million people in Somalia -- around a third of the population -- are on the brink of starvation and millions more in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda have been struck by the worst drought in the region in 60 years. SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images #

 Somalia Famine

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A Somali refugee rests on a wheelbarrow at the entrance to the registration area of the IFO refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee settlement in Dadaab, Kenya. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images) #

 Somalia Famine

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A young boy from southern Somalia takes cover under a plastic sheet in a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, July 31, 2011. Tens of thousands of famine-stricken Somali refugees were cold and drenched after torrential rains overnight pounded their makeshift structures in the capital, Mogadishu. Rains are needed to plant crops and alleviate the drought that is causing famine in Somalia but on Saturday night the rains added to the misery of refugees who live in structures made of sticks and pieces of cloth. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh) #

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A doctor examines Mihag Gedi Farah, a seven- month-old child with a weight of 7.5 lbs., in a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in the town of Dadaab, Kenya. The U.N. will airlift emergency rations this week to parts of drought-ravaged Somalia that militants banned it from more than two years ago in a crisis intervention to keep hungry refugees from dying along what an official calls the "roads of death." Tens of thousands already have trekked to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, hoping to get aid in refugee camps. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam) #

 Somalia Famine

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A malnourished mentally disabled refugee from Somalia is tied down to prevent him falling out of his bed at a hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011. Dadaab, a camp designed for 90,000 people now houses around 440,000 refugees. Almost all are from war-ravaged Somalia. Some have been here for more than 20 years, when the country first collapsed into anarchy. But now more than 1,000 are arriving daily, fleeing fighting or hunger.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam) #

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A malnourished refugee from Somalia has a blood sample taken by a doctor at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam) #

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Khalif Yussuf tries to fall asleep at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, Aug 1, 2011. Dadaab, a camp designed for 90,000 people now houses around 440,000 refugees. Almost all are from war-ravaged Somalia. Some have been here for more than 20 years, when the country first collapsed into anarchy. But now more than 1,000 are arriving daily, fleeing fighting or hunger.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam) #

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Newly arrived Somali refugees wait for medical examinations for their children at a centre at the Dadaab Refugee camp in eastern Kenya, where the influx of Somali's displaced by a ravaging famine remains high. TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images #

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The worst drought in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations has said. More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating.

Faduma Sakow Abdullahiand her five children tried to escape starvation in Somalia by journeying to a Kenyan refugee camp. Only one day before they reached their destination, her 4-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son died of exhaustion and hunger. At first the 29-year-old widow thought the two were merely sleeping when they wouldn’t get up after a brief rest. She had to leave their bodies under a tree, unburied, so she could push on with her baby, 2-year-old and 3-year-old. She saw more than 20 other children dead or unconscious abandoned on the roadside. Eventually a passing car rescued the rest of her family from what could have been death.

“I never thought I would live to see this horror,” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks as she described the 37-day trek to Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have watched their land dry up after years without rain. Then the livestock died. Finally all the food ran out. Now they are making the perilous journey over parched earth to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, regions that also have been hit hard by drought.

 East Africa Drought

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Recently-arrived Somali refugees wait to fill jerry cans with water at a newly-installed tank in Iffou 2, an area earmarked for refugee camp expansion, but yet to be approved by the Kenyan government, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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Members of the family of Rage Mohamed are overtaken by wind-blown dust as they build a makeshift shelter around a thorny acacia tree, on the outskirts of Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Sunday, July 10, 2011. It took the 15-person family five days to make the journey from their drought-stricken home in Somalia. They spent two nights sleeping in the open air under the tree prior to receiving tarps on Sunday. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A young Somali girl who fled violence and drought in Somalia stands in line among adults outside a food distribution point in Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on July 5, 2011. Dadaab, a complex of three settlements, is the world's largest refugee camp. Built to house 90,000 people and home to more than four times that number, it was already well over its maximum capacity before an influx of 30,000 refugees in the month of June. Upon arrival, the refugees find themselves tackling a chaotic system that sees new arrivals go days, even weeks, without food aid. "It still takes too much time for refugees to get proper assistance," Antoine Froidevaux, MSF's field coordinator in Dadaab told AFP. "The answer in terms of humanitarian aid is not satisfactory at all at the moment." ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali woman waiting amongst scores of other refugees, all hoping to receive their ration cards despite a processing backlog, pleads with an organizer in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali man who fled violence and drought in Somalia with his family sits on the ground outside a food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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One-year-old, Habibo Bashir, rests on a bed at a Doctors Without Borders hospital where he is being treated for severe malnutrition, in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A refugee holds her child in her arms as she and others like her mass outside a food distribution point in Dadaab in the hope of getting access to much needed aid at the worlds biggest refugee camp in the world on July 4, 2011. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. With serious drought in the Horn of Africa, thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali refugee drags a sack with food aid given to her at a food distribution point at the Dadaab refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Refugees newly arrived from Somalia line up to receive food rations at a receiving center in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 1300 new refugees fleeing drought and hunger in Somalia are arriving daily in the Dadaab area. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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Somali refugees wait in line to recieve aid at a food distribution point at Dadaab refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali man accesses a water point at the Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali girl being treated for severe malnutrition pushes away a cup as a woman tries to feed her at a hospital operated by the International Rescue Commission. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali refugee waits to receive a food ration for her and her family at a food distribution point. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Somali refugees sit in the yard of their makeshift shelter, fenced in with thorny branches, in Iffou 2, an area earmarked for refugee camp expansion, but yet to be approved by the Kenyan government, outside Dadaab, Kenya, Monday, July 11, 2011. U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres said Sunday that drought-ridden Somalia is the "worst humanitarian disaster" in the world, after meeting with refugees who endured unspeakable hardship to reach the world's largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali woman walks past the frame for a sparsely-covered makeshift shelter in Iffou 2, an area earmarked for refugee camp expansion. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A carcass of an animal lies on an empty road, near Lagbogal, 56 kilometers from Wajir town, Wednesday, July 6, 2011. The worst drought in the Horn of Africa has sparked a severe food crisis and high malnutrition rates, with parts of Kenya and Somalia experiencing pre-famine conditions, the United Nations has said. More than 10 million people are now affected in drought-stricken areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda and the situation is deteriorating, (AP Photo/ Sayyid Azim) #

 East Africa Drought

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Sixty-year-old Suban Osman sits with two of her malnourished grand children at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) at the Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Two-year-old, Aden Salaad, looks up toward his mother, unseen, as she bathes him in a tub at a Doctors Without Borders hospital, where Aden is receiving treatment for malnutrition, in Dagahaley Camp, outside Dadaab, Kenya. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) #

 East Africa Drought

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A Somali boy uses a wheelbarrow to carry two jerry cans filled with water to a tent that he and his family call home at the worlds biggest refugee camp. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Two-year-old Shiniyo looks while bundled in her mothers arms while they stay at a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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A Kenyan doctor looks at the IV drip on a child suffering from severe malnutrition at a clinic run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) at the Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. According to Doctors Without Borders, the number of people seeking refugee keeps swelling and Dadaab will house 450,000 refugees by the end of the year, or twice the population of Geneva. With serious drought in the Horn of Africa, thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

 East Africa Drought

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Children walk down a dusty street in Dadaab refugee camp on July 4, 2011. Fatimah who fled violence in Somalia with her family one year ago says that she does not venture outside the camp to look for firewood because it is too dangerous. With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp even though it was built for just 90,000. With serious drought in the Horn of Africa, thousands of Somalis have arrived in recent weeks in search of food and water. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images #

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