SOMALIA: Nations face Acute Food Shortage due to Drought, UN warns

MOGADISHU FEBRUARY 9, 2016 (CISA) – Parts of Somalia and South Sudan are faced with food shortage and need urgent support due to severe drought, the United Nations has warned.

“The level of malnutrition, especially among children, is of serious concern, with nearly 305,000 children under the age of five years acutely malnourished,” said UN Aid Chief for Somalia Peter de Clercq said February 8.

“We estimate that 58,300 children may be in danger if they are not treated,” he added. Some 950,000 people in the country “struggle every day to meet their food needs,” the UN said, adding that 4.7 million people in total, or nearly 40 percent of Somalia, are in need of aid.

“We are deeply concerned… with severe drought conditions intensifying in Puntland and Somaliland, many more people risk relapsing into crisis.” The United Nation’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called for $885 million in aid of Somalia.

It also noted that many of those in need of help are people who have been displaced by years of conflict in the country. Similarly, the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requests US$1.3 billion to respond to the most life threatening needs of 5.1 million people across the country.

“Nearly 25 percent of the country’s population remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the World Food Program said in a joint statement.

“Families have been doing everything they can to survive, but they are now running out of options,” said UNICEF country Chief Jonathan Veitch. “Many of the areas where the needs are greatest are out of reach because of the security situation. It is crucial that we are given unrestricted access now,” he added.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, said: “We are in a race against time to ensure that the most desperate and vulnerable across South Sudan are reached with lifesaving protection and assistance before it is too late. Together we can quite literally save millions of lives and livelihoods.”

The warning comes as neighbouring Ethiopia struggles to combat its worst drought in decades while Zimbabwe has declared a state of emergency in some drought-affected areas.

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