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Famine likely to spread in southern Somalia: UN

NAIROBI, Sep 3 – Famine hit areas of southern Somalia will likely spread in coming days, with the situation continuing to worsen despite massive international aid efforts, the United Nations has warned.

“The situation in Somalia is deteriorating,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report released late Friday, noting that updated malnutrition figures will be “available shortly.”

“The Somalia Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) warns…that almost all regions of the south could face famine,” the report read.

“Although internal displacement is decreasing, rates of malnutrition and mortality are increasing and communicable diseases continue to spread,” OCHA added.

The UN has described Somalia, where a civil war has been going on since 1991, as facing the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.

Famine was declared in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of southern Somalia in July.

It later spread to three further areas, including into the Somali capital Mogadishu and the Afgoye corridor, the world’s largest camp for displaced people.

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.

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Some 12.4 million people in the Horn of Africa, including parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, are affected by the worst drought in decades in the region and are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

Al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab gunmen pulled out of positions in Mogadishu earlier this month, but continue to restrict aid into areas they control in famine-hit southern regions.

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