Jul 22

Explainer: Famine in Somalia (Guardian, July 20, 2011)

By officially declaring parts of Somalia to be in the grip of famine, the UN will be hoping to galvanise governments and the public into action to address the food crisis in east Africa. The UN estimates that 12 million in the region are now in need of emergency help and warns that thousands will die unless aid arrives quickly.

Where is the famine?

The UN declared on Wednesday that famine now exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Across the country, nearly half of the Somali population – 3.7 million people – are now facing severe food shortages, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south. The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), funded by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), warns that in the next one or two months famine will become widespread throughout southern Somalia unless help arrives. It says the crisis represents the most serious food insecurity situation in the world today and that the current humanitarian response is inadequate. Although Somalia is the worst-affected country, the crisis affects a much wider region, including the northern part of Kenya and southern parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, the northern Karamoja region of Uganda, and parts of South and North Sudan, where large areas are classified as being in a state of humanitarian emergency. Continue reading »

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