In Somalia, a "race against time" to avoid famine


The United Nations is engaged in "a race against time" to avoid a famine in Somalia, where more than 200.000 people are particularly at risk in the context of record drought.

In total, some 7,1 million people - almost half the population - are currently suffering from hunger, but for the 213.000 people most affected, the situation is now catastrophic and urgent, according to a new assessment by aid agencies. the UN.

"We must act immediately to prevent a humanitarian disaster," said El-Khidir Daloum, the country director of the World Food Program in Somalia, quoted in a statement.

“The lives of the most vulnerable are already threatened by malnutrition and hunger, and we cannot wait for the onset of famine to act. It's a race against time to prevent famine,” he said.

Several consecutive rainy seasons have failed in the Horn of Africa, causing the worst drought in 40 years and a major food crisis affecting Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

But the scale of the needs in Somalia are such – in addition to a dire lack of funding – that aid groups are throwing the resources they have at their disposal there to avoid a repeat of a famine in 2011 which caused the death of 260.000 people.

Several regions of Somalia are threatened with famine, particularly in the south where the presence of radical Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Qaeda Islamists makes humanitarian access difficult.

Three million head of cattle have died from drought since mid-2021, a dire toll for a largely pastoral country where families depend on their herds for meat, milk and trade.

Food prices are also soaring, boosted by poor local harvests and soaring import costs caused in part by the war in Ukraine.

So far, less than 20% of the money needed to avert a famine has been collected, putting hundreds of thousands of people at "a very real risk of starvation and death", said the representative of FAO in Somalia, Etienne Peterschmitt.

"We call on the international community to act quickly while we still have hope of preventing ... widespread famine in Somalia," he said.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: / mehmet ali poyraz

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Summary of news from March 24, 2023

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