News / Africa

UN: One-Third of Somalis Now Displaced

Children from southern Somalia get cooked food at a local NGO's compound in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sept.14, 2011.
Children from southern Somalia get cooked food at a local NGO's compound in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sept.14, 2011.

A new report says nearly one-third of Somalia's people are now displaced from their homes because of drought, famine, and years of war.

The U.N. humanitarian affairs office puts the number of displaced Somalis at 2.3 million - 1.4 million within the country, and 920,000 living as refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Yemen.

It says one in every three of those people fled their homes within the last year.

The U.N. agency's report also says Somalis are crossing into Kenya at a rate of 1,200 per day as famine conditions continue to spread across southern Somalia.

The report details efforts to deliver food, shelter, and medicine to desperate Somalis, but warns the country still needs a "massive scale-up" in humanitarian aid.

It says 750,000 Somalis are at risk of death unless drought and famine relief efforts are increased.

Southern Somalia is at the center of the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years.  The drought compounded already tough conditions in the country, which has not had a stable central government since 1991.

The U.N. has declared six areas of the south to be famine zones, and international aid agencies have sent in large amounts of food aid, giving special attention to malnourished children.

But aid efforts have been hampered by lawlessness and a lack of security.  Militant group al-Shabab, which is fighting the Somali government, has blocked aid groups from operating in areas under its control.

The World Meteorological Organization recently forecast increased rains for southern Somalia but the U.N. warns the rains could bring more waterborne diseases in the congested refugee and displaced-person camps.


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