Thursday June 27, 2019

UN: 5.4 Million Face Food Shortage in Somalia Due to Climate-Related Droughts

This latest disaster comes just as Somalis were beginning to recover from the devastating impact of a two-year drought that ended in 2017

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Somalis fleeing hunger in their drought-stricken nation walk along the main road leading from the Somalian border to the refugee camps around Dadaab, Kenya. VOA

The United Nations Refugee Agency warns an estimated 5.4 million people affected by worsening drought in Somalia will likely face severe food shortages by next month without immediate lifesaving assistance.

The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that climate-related droughts are occurring with greater frequency in Somalia. This, it says, is making things worse for the millions of people already displaced and deprived of essential necessities by the country’s chronic instability and conflict.

This latest disaster comes just as Somalis were beginning to recover from the devastating impact of a two-year drought that ended in 2017.

somalia, food shortage, drought
FILE – A Somali family who lost most of their livestock because of severe drought pose for a picture in Wajaale, Somalia, June 2017. (UNHCR/Mustafa Saeed) VOA

That event forced more than a million people to flee their homes in search of food, water and work. The UNHCR reports the current drought has displaced nearly 50,000 people so far this year.

Agency spokesman Babar Baloch says food shortages already are biting. He warns time is running out to help those affected, as the impact of the worsening drought is likely to peak by next month. He said the condition of some 2.2 million people is particularly severe, and they likely will need urgent emergency assistance.

“The risk of death and the dangers that the displaced population or the affected population are facing are real,” he told VOA. “If aid is not provided in time, people could start losing their lives. Let us not forget that in the past years that with efforts of the international community, local authorities and everyone else, famine has been avoided.”

somalia, drought, food shortage
Women who fled drought queue to receive food distributed by local volunteers at a camp for displaced persons in the Daynile neighborhood on the outskirts of Mogadishu, in Somalia, May 18, 2019. VOA

But not every year. In 2011, drought and famine in Somalia killed more than one-quarter of a million people, half of them children under age five.

U.N. agencies agree many lessons have been learned from that tragedy. Baloch says many of the support mechanisms that since have been successfully used to combat such disasters could be quickly reactivated to deal with this crisis.

ALSO READ: Somalia Drought: 2 Million at Risk of Starvation

But he says this can only be done if the money needed to contend with this humanitarian emergency is forthcoming.

Unfortunately, he says the Somali operation remains severely underfunded. He says only 20% of the U.N.’s $710 million appeal for Somali drought relief has been received. (VOA)

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Report: 1.8 Millions in Central African Republic Suffering Acute Food Shortages

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says, unfortunately, the hunger crisis will not be over when the lean season comes to an end

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food shortages
FILE - Children recovering from malnutrition play at the Children hospital in Bangui, Central African Republic. VOA

A new report finds nearly half of all people in the Central African Republic are suffering acute food shortages. The latest assessment by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a joint effort by eight U.N. and International non-governmental organizations, finds more than 1.8 million people in C.A.R. are facing an emergency food crisis.

Civil war in the Central African Republic erupted in December 2013 and continues to take a heavy toll on its people.  The country is in the midst of its so-called lean season, which goes from May to August.

This is the period between harvests when people have depleted their food stocks and hunger is particularly acute. The World Food Program reports nearly 2 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from during this period.

food shortages
The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war. Wikimedia Commons

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel says, unfortunately, the hunger crisis will not be over when the lean season comes to an end.

“Nearly 1.35 million people—almost 30 percent of the population analyzed—will be in severe acute food insecurity including nearly 275,000 people in emergency during the harvest period, meaning September and October,” Verhoosel says.

The United Nations reports more than a half million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the ravages of war.  Nearly 700,000 people remain displaced within the C.A.R.

The signing of a peace agreement in the capital Bangui in February gave rise to hopes the crisis in the country would soon be at an end.  Security conditions remain volatile, however, and attacks are continuing with increased ferocity in several parts of the country where armed groups that did not sign on to the agreement are in control.

food shortages
The World Food Program assists about 600,000 people in the country every month. Wikimedia Commons

Ongoing insecurity is hampering humanitarian operations and making it difficult, if not impossible, to provide food and other crucial aid to the civilians caught in the midst of this violence.

ALSO READ: WHO: Millions of People with Epilepsy Reluctant to Seek Treatment Because of Stigma

The World Food Program assists about 600,000 people in the country every month.  Verhoosel says WFP and its partners are trying to reach more people in urgent need of aid.

He says internally displaced people and refugees are the most vulnerable.  He says they are totally dependent upon international assistance to meet their food and nutritional needs. (VOA)