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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs