Somalia: Millions at risk of famine says UN agencies

By With AFP
Posted on Tuesday, 12 April 2022 12:56

Hawa Mohamed Isack (R), 60, drinks water at a water distribution point at Muuri camp, one of the 500 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in town, in Baidoa, Somalia on February 13, 2022. (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)
Hawa Mohamed Isack (R), 60, drinks water at a water distribution point at Muuri camp, one of the 500 camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in town, in Baidoa, Somalia on February 13, 2022. (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)

Millions of people in Somalia are at risk of famine, with young children the most vulnerable to
the worsening drought in the troubled Horn of Africa nation, UN agencies warned on Tuesday.

“Somalia is facing famine conditions as a perfect storm of poor rain, skyrocketing food prices
and huge funding shortfalls leaves almost 40% of Somalis on the brink,” the agencies
said in a statement.

Many parts of Somalia are being ravaged by drought that has also taken hold in other
countries in the region including Ethiopia and Kenya, but the UN agencies warned of a major
funding shortfall to address the crisis and avoid a repeat of the 2011 famine.

“We are literally about to start taking food from the hungry to feed the starving,” the UN
World Food Programme’s Somalia representative El-Khidir Daloum said in a statement,
describing the country as “on the cusp of a humanitarian catastrophe”.

Six million Somalis or 40% of the population are now facing extreme levels of food
insecurity, according to a new report by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification,
almost a two-fold increase since the beginning of the year, the agencies said.

The joint statement by the WFP, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the
humanitarian agency OCHA and the United Nations Children’s Fund said “pockets of famine
conditions” were likely in six areas of Somalia.

1.4 million children

They said children under the age of five were the most vulnerable, with access to food and
milk scarce because of rising commodity prices and livestock issues.

About 1.4 million children face acute malnutrition through the end of the year, with around
one quarter facing severe acute malnutriton, the statement said.

Together, humanitarian agencies had been able to supply aid to almost two million people
but the UN warned of a “critical gap” in donor funding, with a 2022 plan seeking $1.5 billion
reaching only 4.4 percent of the target.

In the 2011 famine, 260,000 people – half of them children under the age of six – died of
hunger or hunger-related disorders.

Natural disasters – not conflict – have in recent years been the main drivers of displacement
in Somalia, a war-torn nation that ranks among the world’s most vulnerable to climate
change

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