UN declares famine in southern Somalia

2011-07-20 10:40

Nairobi - The United Nations said on Wednesday that famine has hit two parts of rebel-held Somalia, due to a severe drought affecting more than 10 million 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," a statement by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia said.

Both are areas controlled by al-Qaeda inspired Shabaab insurgents.

"Across the country nearly half of the Somali population - 3.7 million people - are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south," the statement read.

"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 afflicted 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 United States on Tuesday also urged secretive 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.

The Shabaab 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.

  • spacecowboy - 2011-07-20 11:05

    Great! Now Al Qaeda is in Somalia. Aint that about a bitch! hashtag NOT WINNING!

  • Badballie - 2011-07-20 11:33

    Africa is not the Wests problem, these people have only survived the last 30 odd years because of annual handouts by aid organisations. Time to let nature take its course and do selective culling. Governments that have allowed their countries to fall into this sort of decay need to accept responsibility, as should the militant groups fighting within the affected countries. if we don't feed them this year there will be half the number to feed next year and so on until the populations reach a point which their environments can sustain and hey presto no more hungry people

      Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-20 13:56

      I don't recall people being so one-dimensional even as children, so enamored of their own tired, tedious anger or their most uninteresting thoughts that they are incapable of compassion in the face of genuine suffering. You are truly an insufferable moron.

  • Kunta-Kinte - 2011-07-20 13:53

    The irony here is that Africa's greatest benefactor cannot help because they are currently being bombed by NATO.

  • o Great one - 2011-07-20 14:46

    Please UN turn your back on somalia and let these africans try and take care of them self for a change. Let see if the can do it.

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