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 Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs