MOGADISHU, June 6 (Xinhua) — Four United Nations agencies on Monday warned of looming terrible hunger in Somalia as the risk of famine increases amid the historic fourth failed rainy season.
The agencies including the World Food Programme, UNICEF, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) jointly called on donors to urgently increase their support to avert famine.
“We must act immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The lives of the most vulnerable are already at risk from malnutrition and hunger, and we cannot wait for a declaration of famine to act,” El-Khidir Daloum, WFP’s Country Director in Somalia, said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
Daloum said it’s a race against time to prevent famine, adding that WFP is scaling up as much as possible, prioritizing the limited resources to save those most at risk.
“But as these new figures show, there is an urgent need for more resources to meet this escalating hunger crisis,” he said.
The UN agencies said a historic fourth consecutive failed rainy season, skyrocketing prices, and an underfunded humanitarian response have resulted in a 160 percent increase in people facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity, starvation, and disease in Somalia.
With no end in sight to the devastating drought affecting the country, the agencies warned that the risk of famine looms larger than ever.
Adam Abdelmoula, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator said Somalia is in danger of entering an unprecedented fifth consecutive failed rainy season, meaning hundreds of thousands of people face the risk of famine.
“We are staring at a potential calamity; failure to act now will be tragic for scores of families in Somalia,” Abdelmoula said.
He said famine cost the lives of 260,000 Somalis in 2010-2011, adding that this cannot be allowed to happen again in 2022.
“It is urgent that more is done to avert this risk and done now,” the UN official said.
The UN agencies and partners are now focusing their limited resources on famine prevention to protect the country’s most vulnerable, as meteorological organizations warn that another below-average rainy season could follow later in the year.
Angela Kearney, UNICEF Somalia Representative said the UN children’s agency has supported the treatment of more than 114,000 children with severe acute malnutrition between January and April.
“This is a child crisis. It’s not only about water or nutrition, but also about children losing education, falling vulnerable to child protection issues and having poor health; all impacting their future,” Kearney said.
According to the UN, about three million livestock have died due to the drought since mid-2021, and the decline in meat and milk production has also led to worsening malnutrition, particularly among young children in pastoral areas who are dependent on local supply.
FAO said the grim food security situation is unfolding as humanitarian funding from the international community has so far fallen short of coming close to what actors need to avert a famine in the country.
“The support required has not yet fully materialized, and hundreds of thousands of Somalis are at a very real risk of starvation and death,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO’s Representative in Somalia.