§ Mr. J. Johnson
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement on the famine in British 335W Somaliland; and what measures are being taken to deal with the suffering.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The present famine in the eastern part of Somaliland Protectorate has resulted from the failure of both spring and autumn rains in 1950. The people of this area are nomadic and after the failure of the spring rains most of them migrated with their flocks to summer grazing areas further south. The old people and children who were unable to face the journey were left behind with a certain amount of stock. By September many of them were near starvation and Government relief was initiated.
The failure of the autumn rains made the position much worse and large-scale relief measures were essential. Camps were set up at Erigavo, Berbera and Burao: the total number of people in these camps on 7th March was 9,173, mainly women and children and old people. Rations were issued free and collecting centres established to transport destitute people from outlying districts. Able-bodied men were employed on public works. Expenditure of £50,000 on famine relief measures has been authorised and efforts have been made with some success to stimulate voluntary aid.
Most of the tribes have had to stay in the southern grazing areas and have suffered heavy losses of stock. It is impossible yet to forecast the extent of these losses but the position should become clearer in April or May when the effect of the spring rains can be judged and future Government policy will be considered in the light of the position at that time.