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UN engages in ‘race against time’ to avert famine in Somalia

UN engages in 'race against time' to avert famine in Somalia

The UN is once again sounding the alarm very loudly on the risk of a serious food crisis. The United Nations is indeed engaged in “a race against time” to avoid a famine in Somalia, where more than 200,000 people are particularly threatened in a context of record drought.

In total, some 7.1 million people – almost half the population – are currently suffering from hunger, but for the 213,000 people most affected, the situation is now catastrophic and urgent, according to a new assessment by aid agencies. the UN.

The worst drought in 40 years

“We must act immediately to prevent a humanitarian disaster,” said El-Khidir Daloum, the country director of the World Food Program in Somalia. “The lives of the most vulnerable are already threatened by malnutrition and hunger, and we cannot wait for the onset of famine to act.”

Several consecutive rainy seasons have failed in the Horn of Africa, causing the worst drought in 40 years and a major food crisis affecting Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. But the scale of the needs in the latter country is such – in addition to a critical lack of funding – that aid groups are devoting the resources they have to it to avoid a repetition of a famine in 2011 which had caused the death of 260,000 people. Several regions of Somalia are threatened with famine, particularly in the south where the presence of radical Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Qaeda Islamists makes humanitarian access difficult.

The impact of the war in Ukraine

Three million head of cattle have died from drought since mid-2021, a dire toll for a largely pastoral country where families depend on their herds for meat, milk and trade. Food prices are also soaring, boosted by poor local harvests and soaring import costs caused in part by the war in Ukraine.

So far, less than 20% of the money needed to avert a famine has been raised, putting hundreds of thousands of people at “a very real risk of starvation and death”, he said. the FAO representative in Somalia, Etienne Peterschmitt. He therefore calls on “the international community to act quickly while we still have a hope of preventing (…) a generalized famine in Somalia”.

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