Monday, September 5, 2011

UN declares sixth famine zone in Somalia

Mark Tran in the GlobalDevelopment blog in the Guardian (UK): The UN on Monday declared another region in Somalia to be in famine. Southern Somalia's Bay region is the latest region to be declared a famine zone, bringing to six the areas affected. Around 4 million Somalis – more than half of the population – are now in crisis in the drought-stricken country. The UN says 750,000 people are now at risk of death in the next four months if there is no adequate response, an increase from the July figure of 350,000.

Estimates of deaths in the region so far run into the tens of thousands, with the crisis affecting Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. More than 150,000 refugees have sought aid in the last few months. Somalia has been hit hardest, its problems compounded by civil war and the fact it has not had a functioning government since 1991.

Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents deny that there is famine in areas under their control and have blocked major western aid agencies from providing urgent food supplies. Apart from a few charities, such as Islamic Relief and the Red Cross, most western agencies are banned by al-Shabaab, making it difficult for the UN's World Food Programme, to reach the most distressed areas. Most of the aid being distributed is going to Somalis who have managed to make it to the capital, Mogadishu, or to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia....

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