The United Nations humanitarian agency has called for a massive scale-up in resources to save Somalia from famine.
During a visit to the drought-stricken southern region of Dollow, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, warned the situation in the country was rapidly deteriorating.
He said “Already 1.5 million children below the age of five are malnourished, and we expect that 356,000 of these may not survive through the end of September this year.”
“Acute malnutrition is about to increase unless we scale up our response plan in a major way.”
Radio France reports that Somalia has suffered through four unprecedented failed rainy seasons in a row – something that has never before happened in the country’s history.
“Some 7.1 million Somalis are in need of food assistance. If the fifth rainy season fails, this number will increase significantly,” Abdelmoula added.
Meanwhile, a host of aid agencies is calling for nations to help bridge the funding gap that has 40 percent of people in Somalia on the brink of starvation.
Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council on Wednesday tweeted his horror at seeing the effects of the crisis first-hand during a visit to the country this week.
Egeland said he was “shocked by the devastating impact” of the drought, which had been brought about by a “changing climate” the Somali people “did nothing to cause”.
The World Food Programme said governments needed to make urgent and generous donations if there was to be any hope of avoiding a catastrophe.
“We need money and we need it now,” WFP regional director for East Africa, Michael Dunford, said in a message to G7 leaders who are meeting from Sunday in Germany.
“Unless there is … a massive scaling-up from right now, it won’t be possible (to avoid a famine), quite frankly.
“The only way, at this point, is if there is a massive investment in humanitarian relief, and all the stakeholders, all the partners, come together.”
The UN has warned that eight of Somalia’s 90 districts are already in famine-like conditions that are categorised as catastrophic.