UN officially declares famine in Somalia
|Two sisters hold hands as they follow their mother and brothers at the reception center of the Dolo Ado refugee camp near the Ethiopia-Somalia border.|
NAIROBI — The United Nations declared famine in two regions of southern Somalia Wednesday and said it could quickly spread unless donors took action. Mark Bowden, humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle had been hit by the worst famine in the region for 20 years.
The U.N. is proposing "exceptional measures" of providing "cash relief" while it finds ways of getting larger volumes of food aid into southern Somalia, Bowden said. The U.N. is also appealing for $300 million over the next two months for Somalia. "If we don't act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks," Bowden said.
"Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas." The U.N. said 3.7 million people across the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country, or almost half the population, were now in danger. Of them 2.8 million are in the south.
In the worst-affected areas, half the children are malnourished. "It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of those being children," Bowden said.
Somalia Famine: How to HelpEast Africa is experiencing what U.S. State Department officials say is quickly becoming one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades. Several seasons of drought have decimated crops and livestock in Somalia, forcing tens of thousands of refugees to seek help in camps in neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya. Rains are not expected until October at the earliest. This means that prolonged support is needed.
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Doctors Without Borders
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
World Vision's Horn of Africa response
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For complete coverage and information on how you can personally make a difference through the "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative, go to SaveOne.net. "Be the Change: Save a Life" is supported in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.