Near a dried-out reservoir on the edge of this village is a dilapidated mud hut. The family that lived there until last month went so far as to strip off its straw roof and feed the material to their emaciated cattle. When the animals died anyway, the family disappeared.

Half of Rebey’s 80 families have abandoned their homes, fleeing a drought that has decimated their livestock and withered two years of harvests.

But cruel weather is not the main reason hundreds of thousands of people in rural Somalia are on the brink of starving to death. Rebels from the extremist al-Shabab group are blocking vital aid from reaching villages, compounding the effects of the poor rains.

Mohamed Ibrahim Hasan, a traditional chief in Rebey, said the deadly combination could spell the end for his lifelong home.

“If the rain is bad again this season, that’s it, this village is finished,” he said. “Or, if al-Shabab comes here to fight, then we will not be able to get the aid from outside that is keeping us alive.”


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