Somali famine refugees begin Ramadan fast

Mon Aug 1, 2011 1:10pm GMT

* Weakened refugees say fast will be tough

* Dadaab camp home to more than 400,000 people

By Richard Lough

DADAAB, Kenya, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Somalia's famine refugees, weakened by months of drought, on Monday began Islam's punishing Ramadan fast amid the tents and shacks of the world's largest refugee camp.

"Because of the famine, we've been going for days without any food anyway," said 25-year-old Mohamed Dubow Saman, comforting his daughter outside their emergency shelter in Dadaab camp, just over Somalia's border in neighbouring Kenya.

"That was a fast without reward. At least this fast is inspired by God," he said.

Sick people do not have to keep the fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. But most camp-dwellers, caught up in the severest drought to hit the Horn of Africa in decades, appeared determined to keep to their traditions.

As the sun sank below the horizon late on Sunday, bathing Dadaab's makeshift city in a deep orange hue, Saman scanned the sky for the first sight of the crescent moon, which would mark the start of the month-long fast.

Like millions of fellow believers across the world, Saman was prepared to go without food or water from dawn to dusk and wait until night to eat his meagre rations.   Continued...

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