Children dying in Somalia as the food crisis worsens

  • Famine has been averted for the time being but the crisis is worsening – IPC
  • “Children are dying now” – UNICEF
  • The UN appeal for funding faces a shortfall of $1 billion

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – More than 200,000 Somalis are suffering catastrophic food shortages and many more are dying of starvation, and that number is set to rise to more than 700,000 next year, according to an analysis by a coalition of United Nations agencies and aid groups.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which sets the global standard for determining the severity of food crises, said its most severe level, “ICF 5 famine”, had been temporarily averted but things were getting worse.

“They have kept starvation out the door but no one knows for how long,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“People are dying of hunger, there’s no doubt about that, but I can’t put a number on that,” he told a news briefing in Geneva after IBC’s latest analysis on Somalia was released.

A two-year drought has destroyed crops and livestock across the Horn of Africa, while food import prices have skyrocketed because of the war in Ukraine.

In Somalia, where 3 million people have been displaced from their homes by conflict or drought, the crisis has been exacerbated by a long-running Islamist insurgency that has impeded humanitarian access to some areas.

The IPC had previously warned that regions of Somalia were at risk of reaching famine levels, but the response of humanitarian organizations and local communities has stopped this.

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“However, the underlying crisis has not improved, and even more horrific consequences have only been temporarily averted. Protracted harsh conditions have led to mass population displacements and cumulative excess deaths,” the report said.

The last famine in Somalia, in 2011, killed a quarter of a million people, half of them before the famine was officially declared.

Fearing a similar or worse outcome this time, heads of humanitarian organizations were quick to say that the situation was already disastrous for many Somalis.

Stop waiting

“I sat with women and children who showed me hills next to their tent in a displacement camp where they buried their two- and three-year-olds,” James Elder, a spokesperson for the UN charity UNICEF, said in Geneva. instructions.

“While the declaration of famine remains important because the world must have outgrown this, we also know that children are dying now.”

The IPC scale of acute food insecurity includes a complex set of technical criteria by which the severity of crises is measured. The fifth stage has two levels, Calamity and Famine.

The Somalia analysis found that 214,000 people are accounted for in the disaster and this number is expected to rise to 727,000 from April 2023 as humanitarian funding decreases.

The disaster is summarized on the IPC’s website as a state of starvation, death, destitution and extremely acute levels of malnutrition.

It said famine was expected from April onwards among the agro-pastoral populations of Baidoa and Burhakaba districts in central Somalia, and among displaced populations in Baidoa city and the capital, Mogadishu.

IPC data showed that 5.6 million Somalis are classified as in crisis or worse (Stage 3 or higher) and that number will rise from April to 8.3 million – about half of the country’s population.

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OCHA is calling for $2.3 billion to respond to the crisis in Somalia, of which it has so far received $1.3 billion, or 55.2%.

David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee’s relief group, said the lack of funding for the appeal shows the world is not treating this as a moment of urgency.

“Now is the time to act,” he told Reuters in an interview, adding that what happened in 2011 should serve as a warning. “Stop waiting for famine to be declared,” he said.

Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu, Bhargav Acharya and Alexander Winning in Johannesburg, Sophia Christensen in Dakar and Emma Farge in Geneva; Written by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by James Macharia Chigg and Ed Osmond

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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