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Somalia Famine:Aid agencies call on world to save lives in Somalia

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Laaska News  July 21,2011
by Peter Mutai
NAIROBI, July 21 (Xinhua) — Aid agencies have urgently called on the international community to act now to respond to the catastrophe in Somalia, saying relabeling this disaster as a famine means very little to the people of Somalia who are continuing to suffer.

In a joint statement issued in Nairobi on Thursday, the Somalia NGO Consortium, representing 78 agencies working in Somalia, said the scale and severity of the crisis which was declared a famine by the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday demand an immediate large scale response.

“There is a window of opportunity enabling greater access, but security guarantees remain fragile. We are doing everything we can to scale up our response, as the needs are overwhelming,” the statement said.

The UN on Wednesday declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia owing to the worst drought in decades, and appealed for urgent resources to assist millions of people in desperate need of help. In the two regions of southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle, it said acute malnutrition rates are above 30 percent, with deaths among children under the age of five exceeding six per 10,000 per day in some areas.

In the last few months, tens of thousands of Somalis have died as a result of causes related to malnutrition, the majority of them children.

Consecutive droughts have affected the country in the last few years while the ongoing conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south. Some 3.7 million people, or nearly half of the Somali population, is now estimated to be in crisis, with an estimated 2.8 million of them in the south.

In some areas in South Central more than half of the population is malnourished and more than one in four people are severely malnourished.

This is twice the threshold for a humanitarian emergency and the highest malnutrition rate in the world. A quarter of the Somali population is now displaced; the majority need assistance within Somalia,” the aid agencies said.


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