Famine Spreads in Somalia

U.N. officials worry that 750,000 people could die as famine spreads to yet another region in the country.

Posted: 09/06/2011 12:40 PM EDT
Filed Under Somalia

New reports from Somalia show that the famine has spread to a sixth area of the country, raising fears that the drought will claim a record breaking number of lives.

The U.N.’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit released a report Monday showing that the Bay region of Somalia has now been affected by the famine and that several other regions are also dangerously close to reaching famine.

"The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition," said senior U.N.'s technical adviser Grainne Moloney according to the BBC.

According to the U.N.'s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, some four million Somalians are in crisis and without an adequate response, 750,000 people may die from malnutrition in the next four months.

But calls for an adequate response have not produced any simple solutions as organizations say they face often insurmountable financial and logistical hurdles.

"The response to date has not been sufficient," Tony Burns, of SAACID, a Somali non-profit told Al Jazeera. "The international monetary crisis weighs heavily in the western and international community, and we're just not getting the funds to make a systemic difference they need to dig deeper unless they want to see 300,000 to 400,000 people dead in the next quarter."

The U.N. declares famine when 20 percent of households face extreme food shortages, there is acute malnutrition in over 30 percent of people, and there are two deaths per 10,000 people every day. The famine is the result of extreme drought in the region that experts say is the worst in 60 years. An estimated 12.4 million people are affected by the drought across the Horn of Africa, which includes parts of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda.

(Photo: AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

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