News / Africa

WHO: Five More Regions in Southern Somalia on Brink of Famine

Somalis displaced by famine sit in their makeshift shelters in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, July 22, 2011
Somalis displaced by famine sit in their makeshift shelters in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, July 22, 2011

A senior official of the World Health Organization says five more regions in southern Somalia are on the brink of famine.  In a telephone briefing from Nairobi, WHO’s Representative for Somalia tells journalists in Geneva conditions for millions of people in the country affected by drought and violence are continuing to deteriorate.

WHO: Five More Regions in Southern Somalia on Brink of Famine
WHO: Five More Regions in Southern Somalia on Brink of Famine

WHO representative for Somalia, Marthe Everard, paints a very grim picture of Somalia where 3.7 million people, nearly one-half of the population, is in need of humanitarian assistance.  

She says up to 50 percent of children in southern regions of Somalia are malnourished.  And, adults too are malnourished because of lack of food.  She says bad nutrition leads to bad health.  She says there is a remarkable increase in measles and waterborne diseases also are on the rise.  

WHO has recorded more than 50,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea and cholera since January.   Everard says there is no breakdown as to the number of cholera cases.  But, adds the disease is under control.  She says there is no cholera epidemic because WHO has set up a good monitoring system.

 

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 per cent 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

Two days ago, the United Nations declared two regions in southern Somalia as suffering from famine.  Everard says a third region also is affected and famine appears to be spreading to other regions as well.  

“We have declared only three regions in south Somalia.  But, the five others are on the brink of also being seen as a famine.   So, these areas indeed appear to be coming to a full-blown famine if we are not responding from now on to this enormous crisis,” she said.  

The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the few international organizations working in southern Somalia.  The agency says Somalia’s appalling humanitarian crisis has reached a new low point.  It notes more and more Somali people are leaving their country because their suffering has become unbearable.

ICRC spokeswoman, Nicole Engelbrecht, says conditions for the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are particularly bad.  She says there has been a dramatic deterioration in their condition.  

She attributes much of this to the serious toll the drought is having on livestock.  She says livestock are severely affected by the lack of pasture and water, especially in the southern and central regions.  

“We have also seen that many animals, especially cattle have died.  And, this puts a difficult strain on the pastoralist families because the few animals that are still there are often too weak to give any milk.  That is actually one of the reasons why malnutrition rates have gone up, especially among children because this has a strongly negative impact on the nutrition of children who do not have access to this milk,” said Engelbrecht.  

The U.N. Children’s Fund estimates nearly 780,000 children under five in Somalia alone are malnourished and at risk of death without urgent assistance.  In total, it finds almost two and one quarter million children in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are estimated to be acutely malnourished.

U.N. aid agencies have been asking the al-Qaida linked al-Shabab militant group for guarantees of safety so they can access southern Somalia and provide the millions of famine victims with assistance.  

Hopes for such guarantees appear to be dimming.  The rebel group recently denied the existence of famine in Somalia, calling U.N. reports of famine “sheer propaganda.”  U.N. aid agencies say the skeletal bodies of the Somali people, rising malnutrition rates and increasing number of deaths speak for themselves.

Somalia Refugees

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid