Somalia on brink of famine crunch, warns UN

July 20, 2011 2:53 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – The United Nations on Wednesday warned that the famine situation in Somalia would get worse in the next months.

Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Mark Bowden said the situation was wanting, with very high rates of malnutrition being experienced in Somalia.

“Malnutrition rates are currently the highest in the world with peaks of 50 percent in certain areas of southern Somalia, with under five deaths exceeding six per 10,000 per day in some areas,” he said.

The famine situation is worsened by the conflict which has curtailed efforts by humanitarian agencies to access those affected inside Somalia.

He said two regions in southern Sudan, southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle were affected by the famine with about 3.7 million Somalis affected by the hunger.

Mr Bowden requested donors to act fast before the situation got worse with already tens of thousands of people having died due to the famine.

“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,” he said.

He said resources were urgently required to cater for food, medical interventions, shelter and sanitation, “Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine affected areas.”

Despite Al Shabaab having asked for aid, Mr Bowden said it was still a concern of aid workers who were unable to work due to the threats issued earlier on.

He said the situation could have been better controlled if it were not for the Al Shabaab threats that he blamed for contributing to the current crisis.

UNICEF Somalia Representative Rozanne Chorlton shared Mr Bowden’s position that agencies dealing with the Somalia crisis were targeting at helping the Somalis in their country.

She said many of the Somalis were dying trying to cross the border in such of food.

“We are trying to help Somali people where they are, people moving from places affected by hunger and conflict have died along the way. They don’t have the strength to get there, so helping them before they cross the border is key,” she said.

The delegation represented by about 78 agencies working in Somalia strongly called for urgent large scale aid to save lives and care for the more than 3.7 million Somalis facing one of the worst famine in many years.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has reported that 1,300 Somali refugees are arriving daily at the Dadaab camp and that many children die after reaching the already flooded camps while others die on the way to the camps.

Kenya has also appealed for help to cope with the upsurge of refugees in camps.


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