Half Somali Population At Risk From Drought-Driven Famine
Somalia famine has killed '29,000 children'
UN declares three new famine zones, warning that more areas are vulnerable
Al Jazeera.net, Aug. 5, 2011
US officials say that the famine in Somalia has killed more than 29,000 children in the last 90 days.
Separately, the UN has declared that three new regions in Somalia are famine zones, making a total of five regions affected by famine thus far in the Horn of Africa country. The UN had said last month two regions were suffering from famine.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the UN's food arm, has said that famine is likely to spread across all regions of Somalia's south in the next four to six weeks.
Famine, as defined by the UN, refers to situations when at least 20 per cent of households face food shortages so severe that they are unable to cope with it and more than two people out of 10 000 people die daily.
Additionally, famine conditions are likely to persist until December, FAO said. Across Somalia, 3.7 million people are in crisis out of a population of 7.5 million, the UN says.
Al Jazeera's Peter Greste said that it was not just about getting food to Somalia but rather about getting nutritious food to the people suffering from famine.
"There is a real nutrition problem. They can get basic maize meal in here but that's not enough. There has to be nutritious food and that's simply not arriving," said Greste.
In need of assistance
The UN says 3.2 million are in need of immediate, life-saving assistance.
About 450,000 people live in Somalia's famine zones, according to Grainne Moloney, chief technical adviser for the UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit at FAO-Somalia.
Somalia is suffering its worst drought in 60 years. Getting aid to the country has been difficult because al-Shabab fighters control much of the country's most desperate areas.
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said: "Somalia is what you could call a typical ICRC context.
"It is an armed conflict, compounded by a very serious drought. It is an area where people are already weakened since long years."
The ICRC has called upon donor nations to double its Somalia budget so it could help feed the more than a million people hit by famine in al-Shabab-controlled areas.
"Given the very serious, extremely worrying situation in the area, we came to the conclusion we had to increase very substantially our budget, which means our activities," Kellenberger said.
Earlier on Wednesday, an African Union official said a donor conference to raise money for Somalia famine victims had been postponed for at least two weeks.
A conference had been scheduled for August 9 to bring together African leaders and international organisations to address the drought crisis.
However, Valerie Vencatachellum, a senior AU policy adviser, said the conference had not been scheduled with enough advance notice.
Vencatachellum said it would be delayed at least two weeks so heads of state could attend.
Wafula Wamunyinyi, the deputy special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia's (AMISOM), told Greste: "The African Union has not taken long. It has ... taken measures to ensure there is delivery of aid to the people who are displaced."
He said: "We're trying as far as possible to ensure that the delivery [of aid] reaches the people; that Mogadishu is kept secure; it is made conducive for the delivery [of aid] by the international actors to reach the people."
Referring to al-Shabab's presence, Wamunyinyi said: "If [Mogadishu] is not made secure, even the delivery of humanitarian aid will not be possible."
The UN said the prevalence of acute malnutrition and rates of crude mortality surpassed the famine thresholds in areas of Middle Shabelle, the Afgoye corridor refugee settlement and internally displaced communities in Mogadishu.
The Horn of Africa is suffering a devastating drought that has been compounded by conflict in Somalia, bad governance and rising food prices.
Tens of thousands of people have already died, and tens of thousands more have fled Somalia in hoping to find food aid at refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Somali famine spreads to three more areas, says UN
BBCnews.com, Aug. 4, 2011
Three new areas of Somalia have been classified as having been hit by famine, the UN says.
It declared a famine in two large southern regions of the war-torn country in July.
"Famine is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming four to six weeks," said the UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.
More than 11 million people have been affected by the worst drought in 60 years in the Horn of Africa.
The UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said that famine was "likely to persist until at least December 2011".
Evidence from malnutrition and mortality rates shows that famine thresholds have been surpassed in two rural districts of the Middle Shabelle region - Balcad and Cadale - as well as the parts in and around the capital, Mogadishu, where there are camps for displaced people.
These three areas join the Bakool and the Lower Shabelle region, where famine was declared on 20 July 2011.
"A humanitarian emergency persists across all other regions of southern Somalia, and tens of thousands of excess deaths have already occurred," the UN unit said in a joint statement with the US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet).
Getting aid into Somalia has been difficult because the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group - which controls much of the south and central regions and parts of the capital - has banned some aid agencies from their territory.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the militants to let the aid through.
"Al-Shabab are preventing assistance to the most vulnerable populations in Somalia," she said.
"I call on al-Shabab to allow assistance to be delivered in an absolutely unfettered way throughout the area... so that as many lives as possible can be saved."
Some 3.2 million people in Somalia are in need of immediate life-saving assistance - almost half the population, the UN says.
According to the FSNAU and Fewsnet, the situation has been compounded by the rise in prices of food staples in Somalia - they have more than doubled since 2010, and in some areas have tripled.
"Across all livelihoods, poor households (30% of the population) are unable to meet basic food needs and have almost no ability to cope with these food deficits," their statement said.
It is the first time in 19 years that the country - which has been without a central government since 1991 - has experienced famine.