Thousands of Somalis gathered in the capital of Mogadishu to offer prayers to God Thursday to send down rains and end the country’s three-year drought, which has pushed it to the brink of famine.
In attendance were a large number of dignitaries, including Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre, senior government officials, several Muslim clerics, and the student community, Shabellenews reports. The gathering, which was held at the Isbaheysiga Mosque, was also attended by citizens.
The Muslim clerics who led prayers called on Allah to send down rain on the Somali people affected by the drought while urging the public to turn to God, “repent,” and offer more prayers.
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Somalia’s newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo declared Tuesday as a national day of prayer.
In his remarks at the occasion, Prime Minister Kheyre asked for divine intervention “to lift the drought burden from the Somali people.” He also called on Somalis to help one another, especially the vulnerable among them, as the country faces its worst drought in years.
Poor rainfalls in the last three consecutive years in Somalia and much of the area around the Horn of Africa has led to a drastic drop of water levels in rivers, streams, and other bodies of water.
Meteorologists say the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has affected much of east and southern Africa, is partly responsible for Somalia’s current drought.
The United Nations and other humanitarian agencies have warned of an impending famine and appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance to save an estimated 6.2 million Somalis from dying of hunger, starvation, and lack of water.
Somalia is one of four nations the UN considers to be at risk of extreme hunger and famine — along with Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. The authorities have already declared a famine in South Sudan.
The BBC reports that in addition to the lack of food caused by the drought, cases of dehydration are widespread and deaths have been reported due to cholera, which is often spread due to lack of clean drinking water. Domestic animals are also reported to be dying in large numbers, with their carcasses littering the landscape.