UN says famine conditions in Somalia have ended
The U.N. declared famine in two parts of southern Somalia last July and extended the famine warning in September to six out of eight regions in the Horn of Africa country.
An exceptional harvest after good rains and food deliveries by aid agencies have ended famine in Somalia although conditions remain fragile and could worsen, the United Nations said on Friday.
“No more region in Somalia is under famine conditions,” Jose Graziano da Silva, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told reporters. “However, the good news does not mean the crisis is over.”
“If we do not continue to support these people…these people will not survive and we will have famine back,” the UN food agency chief said.
“We have less than 100 days to avoid a new famine in the region,” he said.
The U.N. said initially 750,000 Somalis faced imminent starvation and lowered this to 250,000 by November. Six months after famine was declared, 4 million Somalis were in need of aid and the U.N. said the number now stood at 2.34 million.
“The gains are fragile and will be reversed without continued support,” said Mark Bowden, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
“There are 1.7 million people in southern Somalia still in crisis. Millions of people still need food, clean water, shelter and other assistance to survive and the situation is expected to deteriorate in May,” he said in a statement.
The UN said that the latest harvest in Somalia was double that of the average over the past 17 years, lowering food prices, though mortality rates in southern Somalia were still among the highest in the world.