News / Africa

Somalia Famine Spreads to New Areas

A malnourished refugee from Somalia at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.
A malnourished refugee from Somalia at a field hospital of the International Rescue Committee, IRC, in Dadaab, Kenya, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Gabe Joselow

The United Nations says three more areas of Somalia have now slipped into famine.  The famine is expected to spread further unless there is immediate intervention.

The U.N.'s food security analysis unit and a famine warning project known as FEWS-NET say the famine in southern Somalia is growing worse.

Definition of Famine:

The word famine is a term that is not used lightly by humanitarian organizations. The United Nations describes a crisis as a famine only when the following conditions are met:

  • Malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent
  • More than two people per 10,000 people are dying each day
  • Severe lack of food access for large population

Current Famine:

    Almost half of Somalia's population, 3.7 million people, are affected by the current crisis with malnutrition rates in southern Somalia the highest in the world, surpassing 50 percent in some areas. The United Nations says it is likely that tens of thousands have already have died, the majority of those being children.

    The drought that has led to the current famine in parts of Somalia has also affected people in Kenya and Ethiopia.

    Previous Famines in the Horn of Africa:

  • Somalia 1991-1992
  • Ethiopia 1984-1985
  • Ethiopia 1974

New data shows more people are dying and suffering from acute malnutrition in areas of the Middle Shabelle region, as well as among the displaced people of Mogadishu and the Afgoye corridor, to the west of the capital.

Until now, famine conditions had been detected in only two areas, Lower Shabelle and Bakool in south central Somalia.

The chief technical advisor for the U.N. food security unit for Somalia, Grainne Moloney, says conditions in these displaced communities are especially "depressing."

"It's a hugely vulnerable group who have already been displaced from their homes and were reliant on humanitarian assistance, and of course with the restrictions in access and the restrictions in funding, did not get that assistance," said Moloney.  "About three years ago the malnutrition rate was about 12 percent there and to see that it's now 40 percent is very disheartening."

Famine is a technical designation that means at least 30 percent of the population is malnourished, households are lacking access to food and that there have been deaths from hunger.

There are no solid figures on the number of deaths per day, but it is estimated to be in the hundreds.

The U.N. has appealed for more than $1 billion to address the crisis and has so far raised about 40 percent of the money it has requested.

Maloney says more assistance is needed immediately.

"There need to be massive interventions now to the 2.8 million people in the south that need assistance and that needs to include food, nutrition, water, health and agriculture inputs.  They need everything right now and they need it now, they cannot afford to wait," Moloney added.

Maloney says there is some hope for Mogadishu, where displaced people are within the reach of humanitarian organizations who are expanding their efforts on the ground.

"I think the conditions in Mogadishu could certainly be reversed and I know a lot of the agencies on the ground are really stepping up on their interventions, so I'm sure that is one of the areas we can confidently say where the situation will improve," Moloney noted.

The crisis in Somalia was caused by a severe cycle of drought, which some say is the worst in 60 years.  But it was made worse by the lack of a functioning central government and restrictions on aid enforced by the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab.

The U.N. expects famine to spread to other regions of southern Somalia within the next four to six weeks and to last at least until December.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid