UN: Somalia has two months to avert drought catastrophe
United Nations aid agencies say they only have two months to avert a catastrophe in drought-stricken Somalia.
According to the organisation, there’s “no time to lose” with various of its agencies insisting it will take an immediate upscaling of humanitarian assistance to stop Somalia’s drought problems worsening further.
Half the population in need of support
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) estimate that 6.2 million people in Somalia are either severely food insecure or in need of livelihood support – almost half of the country’s entire population.
“Huge numbers of Somalis have come to the end of all their possible resources and are living hand-to-mouth,” says Steven Lauwerier, the UNICEF Somalia Representative.
UNICEF also says the situation for children in Somalia is particularly worrying. It estimates that one million children are malnourished this year, including 185,000 who are severely malnourished and in need of lifesaving support.
Somalia facing another catastrophe
WFP Country Director, Laurent Bukera, told VOA that Somalia is on the brink of returning to a drought catastrophe – one that’s sizing up as worse than the problems faced in 2010-11.
“The severity, the spread of the drought and of the situation this time around is bigger, is larger geographically than what happened in 2010-11,” he told the publication.
“Therefore, if we do not respond fast enough, if we do not respond at scale, we can prepare ourselves for a catastrophe, which is at least to the size and the intensity of the situation we experienced over there in 2010-11.”
Almost 260,000 people died in the famine caused by that last drought – half of which were children under the age of five years old. UNICEF insists that children are among the most at risk in Somalia’s current drought crisis, warning that similar numbers could be repeated if the necessary aid isn’t received.
Featured image: Von Oxfam East Africa – http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfameastafrica/5758386784/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15873369