Misan’s images tell the stories of children’s fight for survival, as their bodies fail them and their parents question whether they will live or die.
The photographs document the struggles families face in Somaliland, as the region experiences its worst drought in 40 years. Here, children are experiencing the severest consequences of the region’s hunger crisis, with more than half of all children under five (1.8 million) facing acute malnutrition.
Over half a million children across Somalia are thought to be suffering from the deadliest form of malnutrition - severe acute malnutrition - which causes blurred vision, loose skin, swollen feet and weak muscles, eventually leaving children unable to move.
For Harriman, who is well-known for documenting the Black Lives Matter protests, it is his first time turning his lens to a crisis of this kind.
Speaking of his time in Somaliland, he says: “I needed to find a way to use my lens and my voice to let the world know that this tragedy can be avoided and reversed with urgent action.
“I spoke to parents who are facing an impossible struggle to find food for their children, whose bodies are failing them due to hunger. As a father of two little girls, it was truly heart-breaking.”
9-month-old Ahmed* is experiencing many of the symptoms of Severe Acute Malnutrition, the most dangerous and deadly form of malnutrition. His body is tiny, weighing roughly that of a newborn baby.
After visiting a mobile health clinic run by Save the Children, Ahmed* has been referred to a stabilisation centre in the city of Buroa, which treats the most critical cases of malnutrition.
His mother Hawa* says: “The drought has had a devastating effect on us, especially my child, who is malnourished due to a lack of milk and nutritious food. He has been sick since he was born. He is suffering from stomach pain, vomiting and he has a fever. We eat what we can get. Sometimes we don’t eat,” she says.
Two-year-old Hamdi* lives with his grandmother and five siblings near the city of Burao. He’s being treated for severe malnutrition, since the current drought killed all of his grandmother’s livestock, leaving them with no income and little to eat.
Speaking of his health, Hamdi*’s grandmother Fawzia* says, “He was severely malnourished. He became very weak and refused to eat and drink. He had a fever and was vomiting if he ate or drank something. His skin was so hot and would burn you if you touch him.”
“The biggest challenge is having no stable source of income to cover the food needs of my children,” she says.
“I do not have nutritious foods for the children. I barely get food for myself,” she continues.
Four consecutive failed rains in the Horn of Africa, compounded by rising food prices due to the war in Ukraine and the fall out of the Covid-19 pandemic, has left an estimated more than seven million children facing extreme hunger across the region.
Nearly 6.7 million people in Somalia - 41% of the population – are expected to be battling widespread food shortages between October and December this year, which is an increase of nearly 2.4 million people from previous figures.
With the UN warning of famine in parts of the country within months, Save the Children is calling for urgent action before time runs out.
Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia said:
“These powerful photographs illustrate the preventable disaster unfolding before our eyes. No child should go to bed hungry; no parent should question which of their children to feed.
“The people of Somalia and Somaliland are used to failed rains and harvests, but this situation is truly unprecedented. Millions of innocent children’s lives are at risk and time is running out for them. The world must act now to prevent catastrophe.”
Save the Children has been working in Somalia and Somaliland since 1951 and has programmes throughout the country which support children’s healthcare, education and food needs. Last year its work in the region directly reached over 3 million people, including 1.7 million children.
Black & White images - https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2SDAGWRE.
Colour images - https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2SDAGIXH.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Misan Harriman is a photographer, entrepreneur and social activist and is one of the most widely-shared photographers of the Black Lives Matter movement. He is also the first black person in the 104 year history of British Vogue to shoot the cover of its September issue. In July 2021 he commenced his appointment as Chair of the Southbank Centre, London.
Misan has been working with Save the Children UK since December 2020, when he captured portraits of a girls’ sewing collective in Hackney, England. In December 2021 he went on to photograph influential names from the worlds of fashion, film and music with young people’s messages of protest and hope for the future.
In September 2022, Save the Children UK appointed Misan Harriman as an official ambassador for the charity.