U.N. declares famine in two regions of south Somalia - AlertNet
Not news, sadly - but an official declaration.
AIROBI, July 20 (AlertNet) - The United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia on Wednesday and said it could quickly spread unless donors took action.
Mark Bowden, humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle had been hit by the worst famine in the region for 20 years.
The U.N. is proposing "exceptional measures" of providing "cash relief" while it finds ways of getting larger volumes of food aid into southern Somalia, Bowden said. The U.N. is also appealing for $300 million over the next two months for Somalia. "If we don't act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks," Bowden said.
"Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas."
The U.N. said 3.7 million people across the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country, or almost half the population, were now in danger. Of them 2.8 million are in the south.
In the worst - affected areas, half the children are malnourished. "It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of those being children," Bowden said. Years of drought, that have also affected Kenya and Ethiopia, have hit harvests and conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of the country.
The south is controlled by al Shabaab Islamist insurgents, affiliated to al Qaeda, who are fighting to topple the Western-backed government. The group also controls parts of the capital Mogadishu and central Somalia.
You can help: Oxfam in Somalia
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