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UN: ‘Race against time’ to prevent famine in Somalia

The United Nations has launched a “race against time” to prevent a famine in Somalia, where more than 200,000 people are under immediate threat amid a record drought.

In all, some 7.1 million people – almost half the population – are hungry, but for the 213,000 most affected, the situation is now catastrophic and urgent, according to a new UN assessment.

“We must act immediately to prevent the impending” humanitarian catastrophe, “said El Hidir Dalum, director of the World Food Program (WFP) delegation in Somalia.

“The lives of the most vulnerable are already threatened by malnutrition and hunger, we can not wait for famine to take action. We are in a race against time to prevent famine,” he said.

Consecutive rains have been marked by weak rainfall in the Horn of Africa, causing the worst drought in 40 years and the consequent major food crisis in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The scale of needs in Somalia is now such – and the lack of funding so glaring – that aid organizations are wasting their resources trying to prevent a recurrence of the 2011 famine, which claimed 260,000 lives.

Several areas of Somalia are threatened by famine, especially in the south, where the presence of Shebab jihadists swearing allegiance to al-Qaeda makes it extremely difficult for humanitarian organizations to access.

Three million cattle have died from the drought by mid-2021, a devastating toll in a predominantly livestock country, where many families depend on herds for meat, milk and trade.

At the same time, commodity prices are rising steadily due to insufficient harvests in the region and skyrocketing import costs, in part due to the war in Ukraine.

So far, less than 20 percent of the amount needed to prevent famine has been raised through donations, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are in “real danger of starvation,” warns a UN Food and Agriculture Organization spokesman in Somalia. Etienne Petersmith.

“We call on the international community to act quickly, as we still hope to prevent (…) the outbreak of a general famine in Somalia,” he added.

Source: AMPE

Source: Capital

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