Somalia’s famine has officially come to an end, the United Nations announced Friday. However, although the situation has improved, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization warned that famine could return unless action is taken to prevent droughts and restore food security.
“Long-awaited rains coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months are the main reasons for this improvement,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “However, the crisis is not over. It can only be resolved with a combination of rains and continued, coordinated, long-term actions that build up the resilience of local populations and link relief with development.
A new report estimates that the number of people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in Somalia has dropped from 4 million to 2.34 million. However, famine and its causes continue to stalk much of the Horn of Africa; something the FAO wants the international community to remain aware of.
“We can’t avoid droughts, but we can put measures in place to try to prevent them from becoming a famine. We have three months until the next rainy season,” Graziano da Silva said.
Across the region, including Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, the food crisis continues to affect nearly 9.5 million people who are in need of emergency assistance.
The 2011 famine in Somalia was declared one of the world’s worst in the last 20 years. In addition to drought-related food shortages, Somalia’s food security was further compromised by violence between the Somali transitional government, al-Shabaab and other militias. Although no official death toll has been released, the U.N. estimates that tens of thousands of Somalis have died as a result of the famine.
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(Photo: REUTERS/Feisal Omar)