UN warns of looming famine in Somalia

The United Nations' top relief chief on Monday warned of a humanitarian crisis in drought-stricken Somalia, saying the country was on the brink of famine for the second time since 2011, News.az reports citing Xinhua.

Martin Griffiths, under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a news conference in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, that the severe drought ravaging the country is likely to push parts of the country into famine by the end of 2022.

"Famine is at the door, and today we are receiving a final warning. I have been shocked to my core these past few days by the level of pain and suffering we see so many Somalis enduring," Griffiths said at the end of his five-day visit to Somalia.

The Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis report released Monday shows concrete indications that famine will occur in two areas in the Bay region (Baidoa and Burhakaba districts) in south-central Somalia between October and December.

According to the report, with five consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, exhausted coping capacities of affected communities, depletion of livelihood assets, and other exacerbating factors, humanitarian assistance will be required to address high levels of needs beyond December 2022.

"I repeat: This is a final warning to all of us. The situation and trends resemble those seen in the 2010-2011, in that crisis. Except now they are worse," Griffiths said.

He said the unprecedented failure of four consecutive rainy seasons, decades of conflict, mass displacement, and severe economic issues are pushing many people to the brink of famine.

"And these conditions are likely to last through to at least March 2023," he said, pointing out that Baidoa is the epicenter of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

"It is not the only place with needs, but it is one of them. In camps for the displaced people, we saw extreme hunger. In the hospital in Baidoa, we had the unenviable privilege of seeing children so malnourished that they could barely speak," the UN relief chief said.

The UN said the Bay region was also the epicenter of the humanitarian crisis in 2017 when severe drought led to agropastoral and displaced populations facing a risk of famine, which was only averted due to timely, robust, and sustained humanitarian assistance.

Griffiths said 1.5 million children across Somalia will face acute malnutrition by October if the current course remains. "The drought, the worst in four decades, is forecast to continue. This is, in those often-used words, and no more true than here, a humanitarian catastrophe. We know that the needs will grow," he said.

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