Famine spreads to more areas in southern Somalia

Aug 9, 2011

The situation in southern Somalia has become worse following the drought caused by two seasons of low rainfall. (Photo: OCHA/Abdi Noor Yussuf)

Nairobi - Three new areas in southern Somalia have deteriorated into a famine situation.

These are parts of Middle Shabelle region, the Afgooye Corridor settlements home to roughly 400,000 displaced people since 2007, and parts of Mogadishu which are hosting displaced populations.

This follows a declaration of famine in two regions of south Bakool and Lower Shabelle two weeks ago.

“This is a life and death issue for many families right now,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit warns that unless there is a massive increase in the humanitarian response, the famine will rapidly spread to more areas in the south.

Somalia is currently facing the most serious food and nutrition crisis in the world in terms of both scale and severity. The need to scale up humanitarian operations to save lives is of upmost urgency.

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia, Mark Bowden said that the latest information “confirms our concerns over the increasing severity of the crisis facing Somalia; especially IDPs and the urgency of scaling up our actions. The declaration of famine in Mogadishu reflects the massive influx of people into the city in the last two months and the need to redouble our efforts to improve conditions.”

At least 2.8 million people including 1.25 million children are in critical need of assistance in southern Somalia. The humanitarian community is striving to secure safe and unhindered access to provide life-saving assistance to the affected populations wherever they are. This will mitigate the necessity by Somalis to undertake the hazardous journey into Mogadishu or to Kenya and Ethiopia.

Humanitarian agencies are working hard to address the critical situation of the displaced with the hope that the situation will not be further complicated by the conflict. The IDPs are already facing serious health and nutrition needs.

“I call on all parties to support an urgent scale up of assistance so that we can save the lives of those who most need our support at this critical moment in accordance with Humanitarian Principles,” Mark Bowden said.

On 29 July, an emergency appeal of approximately US$1 billion dollars was launched to urgently respond to the scale of the disaster. So far the appeal is only 43 per cent funded and more money is urgently needed to respond to basic needs.

Despite the challenges and the complexity of the Somalia operation, a scaled-up response campaign is being undertaken by over 100 aid organisations.

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