UN warns of mass starvation in Somalia, South Sudan

 Agencies

More than 50,000 children in Somalia “face death” because of the ongoing drought there, the UN says.

A stark warning issued by the UN’s humanitarian office, Ocha, said the malnutrition situation is “alarming”.
It added that nearly one million Somalis, one in 12 of the population, “struggle… to meet their food needs”.

The drought in Somalia has been partly caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon which has affected east and southern Africa.
Many of those in need of help are people who have been displaced by years of conflict in the country.

In all 4.7 million people, nearly 40% of the population, need some sort of humanitarian assistance.
As the drought is intensifying there “many more people risk relapsing into crisis,” said the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia.

Highlighting the condition of the children, he said that 58,300 will die “if they are not treated”. Mr de Clercq appealed for more funds so they can be helped quickly.

In neighbouring Ethiopia more than 10 million people need food assistance following the failure of the rains. And Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster in some drought-affected areas of the country.

Meanwhile at least 40,000 people are being starved to death in South Sudan war zones on the brink of famine, the United Nations said Monday, in a plea to rival forces to let aid in.

The figures released in a UN report describe some of the worst conditions yet in more than two years of a civil war marked by atrocities and accusations of war crimes, including the blockading of food supplies.

Conditions are “escalating”, the UN said, with already over 2.8 million people needing aid, almost a quarter of the country.

“Nearly 25 percent of the country’s population remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN children’s agency Unicef and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a joint statement.

“Families have been doing everything they can to survive, but they are now running out of options,” said Unicef country chief Jonathan Veitch.

“Many of the areas where the needs are greatest are out of reach because of the security situation. It is crucial that we are given unrestricted access now.”

The warning comes three months after the last UN-backed specialised hunger assessment, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report.

That October report warned of a “concrete risk of famine” without aid, but areas remain too dangerous for experts to access, meaning it was not possible to gather the statistics needed to declare famine.

UN report describe some of the worst conditions yet in more than two years of a civil war marked by atrocities and accusations of war crimes, including the blockading of food supplies.

Conditions are “escalating”, the UN said, with already over 2.8 million people needing aid, almost a quarter of the country.

“Nearly 25 percent of the country’s population remain in urgent need of food assistance, and at least 40,000 people are on the brink of catastrophe,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN children’s agency Unicef and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a joint statement.

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