Somalia is on the brink of famine, warns the UN

Somalia is on the brink of famine, warns the UN

Somalia sourced at least 90% of its grain from Ukraine and Russia before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Somalia is on the brink of famine, the head of the UN humanitarian agency warned on Monday, in a “final warning” ahead of a disaster in the Horn of Africa country in plagued by a historic drought.

Famine is knocking at the door. Today is a final warning, Martin Griffiths, the head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a press conference from the Somali capital Mogadishu.

He pointed out that the latest data shows concrete indications that a famine will occur […] between October and December this year, in two districts in the south of the country, those of Baidoa and Buurhakaba.

Arriving in Somalia on Thursday, Mr Griffiths said he was deeply shocked by the level of pain and suffering so many Somalis are enduring, saying he had seen children so malnourished they could barely speak during his visit to Baidoa, the epicenter of the impending disaster.

Across the country, a total of 7.8 million people, nearly half the population, are affected by the historic drought, with 213,000 of them at high risk of starvation, according to UN figures. .

Hunger and thirst have thrown a million people onto the roads since 2021.

A doctor performs a health check on a malnourished child.

The country is experiencing its third drought in a decade, but the current one has surpassed the horrific droughts of 2010-2011 and 2016-2017 in terms of duration and severity, OCHA estimated in July.

This drought is the result of an unprecedented sequence for at least 40 years of four consecutive poor rainy seasons since late 2020.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN weather agency, warned at the end of August of the high probability that the next season, scheduled for October and November, will also fail.

The drought decimated herds, essential to the survival of a largely pastoral population, as well as crops, which had already been ravaged by an invasion of locusts that crossed the Horn of the Horn. Africa between the end of 2019 and 2021.

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic (health crisis, confinement, slow trade, etc.) have made the lives of many Somalis even more precarious.

And in recent months, the Russia's invasion of Ukraine had dramatic repercussions for Somalia, whose wheat supply relied 90% on these two countries.

The prices of certain commodities have exploded. In parts of Somalia, prices for food staples, such as red sorghum, have risen above levels seen during the 2011 famine, an OCHA report published in July pointed out.

“People's means of producing food and earning an income are depleted beyond the breaking point and large-scale intervention scale is urgently needed to save lives and avert starvation. ยป

โ€” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Somalia was hit by a famine in 2011-2012 that claimed an estimated 260,000 lives, including half were children under five. Famine was declared in several areas in the south and center of the country between July 2011 and February 2012.

In 2017, another disaster was averted thanks to early mobilization of the international community.

But this year, faced with the multiplicity of humanitarian emergencies (Yemen, Afghanistan, Ukraine, etc.), the many appeals launched by humanitarian NGOs and UN agencies to avert a tragedy โ€“ not just in Somalia, but across the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya) โ€“ have had little response. #x27;echo.

At the end of June, the NGO Save The Children warned the international community that it was sleepwalking towards a catastrophic famine in Somalia .

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