Africa: UN Declares Famine In Southern Somalia: UPDATED

20 Jul

The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia, where over 3m people have been affected by a prolonged drought.

 
 Kenya - A child sleeps at the Ifo refugee camp

Kenya – A child sleeps at the Ifo refugee camp
 
Kenya - Refugees in Dagahaley, which makes up part of the Dadaab refugee settlement
Kenya – Refugees in Dagahaley, which makes up part of the Dadaab refugee settlement
 
 Kenya - An aerial view of the Dagahaley refugee camp

Kenya – An aerial view of the Dagahaley refugee camp
 
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Six One News: Somalia facing huge humanitarian crisis

Six One News: Somalia facing huge humanitarian crisis

The UN has said famine has hit two parts of southern Somalia due to a severe drought affecting more than 10m people in the Horn of Africa.

‘The United Nations declared today that famine exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle,’ the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia said.

Al Shabaab, Islamist insurgents affiliated to al-Qaeda, control large parts of both areas.

‘Across the country nearly half of the Somali population – 3.7m people – are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8m people are in the south,’ the UN said.

‘Consecutive droughts have affected the country in the last few years, while the ongoing conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of the country,’ it added.

Officials warned that unless urgent action was taken the areas affected by famine would grow.

‘If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,’ Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, told reporters.

Countries affected across the region include parts of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti, while the US has also urged Eritrea to reveal how severely it has been hit by the drought.

Famine implies having less than 2,100 kilocalories of food per day, acute malnutrition in more than 30% of the children and two deaths per 10,000 people every day, according to the Integrated Phase Classification, a food security measure used by the UN and other relief agencies.

Robinson to visit refugee camp

Irish aid agencies say the disaster facing Somalia is likely to be the worst Africa has seen in 20 years.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson will visit the largest refugee camp in the world at Dadaab in Kenya today.

Irish aid agencies, whose senior executives have been visiting refugee camps in Somalia and Kenya this week, say they are extremely concerned about the situation.

UNICEF has said at least 500,000 children are at risk of death in the region, where high food prices and the driest years in decades have pushed many poor families into desperate need.

The UNHCR said yesterday it was seeking further security guarantees from armed rebels in Somalia in order to deliver greater amounts of assistance and prevent more hungry people from becoming refugees.

Last year, the World Food Programme suspended its aid operations across much of southern and central Somalia after al Shabaab ordered the UN agency to halt operations in areas under its control.

NEWS UPDATE:

A woman and child on the outskirts the Dagahaley refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty ImagesA woman and child on the outskirts the Dagahaley refugee camp which makes up part of the giant Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images.
 
The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia, with more than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa also in need of emergency help.

Some 2.85 million people in Somalia alone are affected, with one in three children suffering from malnutrition, according to the United Nations.

The statement by UN official Mark Bowden said malnutrition rates in Somalia are among the highest in the world.

Famine is officially defined as when two adults or four children per group of 10,000 people are dying of hunger every day and 30 per cent of the population is acutely malnourished.

The UN said those conditions exist in the Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia.

Aid agency Oxfam accused several European governments of “willful neglect” as an $800 million aid shortfall slowed the international response to the deteriorating drought crisis.

The British charity said that of the estimated $1 billion needed to stave off a humanitarian disaster in the drought-hit region that straddles Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, only $200 million in new money had been paid up.

“There is no time to waste if we are to avoid massive loss of life. We must not stand by and watch this tragedy unfold before our eyes,” said Fran Equiza, Oxfam’s regional director.

“The world has been slow to recognise the severity of this crisis, but there is no longer any excuse for inaction.”

Oxfam said the UK had led the way in pledging new aid but that the European response had been surprisingly sluggish.

The charity said France had failed to match words with any additional funding and that neither Italy nor Denmark had provided any new aid.

NEWS UPDATE:

More than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa have been affected by the drought

A displaced Somali mother holds her malnourished child at southern Mogadishu’s Banadir …

Map of the Horn of Africa showing areas affected by the worst drought in 60 years and the related famineEnlarge Photo

Map of the Horn of Africa showing areas affected by the worst drought in 60 years …

The UN officially declared famine in two parts of southern Somalia Wednesday as the world slowly mobilised to save the 12 million people battling hunger in the region’s worst drought in 60 years.

The United States urged the Al Qaeda-inspired rebels controlling the area to allow the return of the relief groups they expelled two years ago while aid groups warned many would die without urgent action and funding.

“The United Nations declared today that famine exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool, and Lower Shabelle,” a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia said.

The region is Somalia’s breadbasket and the UN said that an estimated 3.7 million people — or nearly half of the war-torn country’s population — were facing a food crisis.

“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden told reporters.

“If we are not able to intervene immediately, tens of thousands more Somalis may die,” the UN added.

Somalia, which has been affected by almost uninterrupted conflict for 20 years and become a by-word for “failed state”, is the worst affected nation but parts of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti are also hit.

The United States urged neighbouring Eritrea, one of the most secretive countries in the world, to reveal the scope of its own food situation.

“Given the combination of severity and geographic scope this is the most severe food security crisis in Africa since the 1991/2 Somalia famine,” the UN added.

Famine implies that at least 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition in over 30 percent of people, and two deaths per 10,000 people every day, according to UN definition.

The Shebab expelled foreign aid groups two years ago, accusing them of being Western spies and Christian crusaders.

However, the UN last week airlifted in the first supplies since the group said it would lift restrictions on aid.

Malnutrition rates in Somalia are currently the highest in the world, with peaks of 50 percent in certain areas of southern Somalia, Bowden said.

“Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine affected areas,” Bowden said.

Over 78,000 Somalis have fled to seek refuge in neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya in the last two months.

In Kenya, they are streaming into overcrowded camps hosting some 380,000 people — more than four times the original capacity.

On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said death rates among refugees arriving in Ethiopia’s Dolo Ado area reached 7.4 per 10,000 in June, 15 times more than the baseline rate in sub-Sahara Africa.

Somalia’s embattled government welcomed the famine declaration — the first since the term was defined by the UN in 2008 — as a sign that the world was beginning to acknowledge the scope of the disaster.

“At least it is great that the world has recognised the magnitude of hardship the poor Somalis are facing,” Abdulkadir Moalim Nur told AFP, a minister in the president’s office.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation appealed Wednesday for $120 million (84 million euros) for the 12 million drought victims in the Horn of Africa.

Aid group Oxfam said only $200 million (140 million euros) of the needed one billion (700 million euros) had been provided.

“There is no time to waste if we are to avoid massive loss of life. We must not stand by and watch this tragedy unfold before our eyes,” said Fran Equiza, Oxfam’s Regional Director.

The government’s authority over the vast country is limited and Johnnie Carson, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, stressed that the Shebab’s responsibility in the suffering was clear.

“Al-Shebab’s activities have clearly made the current situation much worse,” Carson told reporters.

UN agencies will hold a meeting Monday in Rome over the drought-sparked humanitarian crisis as the world’s top leaders called for mass mobilisation to contain one of the planet’s worst unfolding humanitarian disasters.

As he toured the continent earlier this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron described the Horn of Africa drought as the worst humanitarian catastrophe in a generation.

In a statement released during a visit to India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged more funds to tackle the crisis and called for the international community to follow suit.

 

Related

Haunting horror of Somalia’s starving people | 20/07/2011

In Kargi, hunger stalks lives of quiet desperation | 19/07/2011

Robinson travels to Kenya to focus attention on massive hunger crisis | 18/07/2011

United Nations

Mary Robinson visits Somalia

Mary Robinson to travel to Horn of Africa

Horn of Africa facing humanitarian catastrophe

Africa drought ‘worst humanitarian disaster’

Somalian rebels lift aid ban after drought

Keywords:  

somalia,

kenya,

famine,

mary robinson,

unhcr

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