Wednesday, 20 July 2011

UN to formally declare famine in drought-hit southern Somalia

The United Nations is set to declare a famine in drought-ravaged southern Somalia, the first time such a declaration has been made since the early 1990s.
More than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are in need of emergency assistance due to drought and ongoing conflict, according to the UN
The famine announcement is expected Wednesday in Nairobi, and will be the first time the UN has declared a famine since 1992. It signals to donors the extreme need for more aid, and warns insurgents in Somalia that the population's suffering is taken seriously by the world community.
The formal conditions for famine are two adult deaths or four children deaths from hunger per 10,000 people a day, more than 30 per cent of children must be suffering from acute malnutrition and the population must have access to less than 2,100 kilocalories of food per day.
The drought, the worst seen in the region in 60 years, decimated the region's livestock and fields, both the only source of income and food for many people.
Thousands of people are arriving daily at large refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, raising fears of disease due to poor sanitation and overcrowding.
The population in Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in Kenya, has swelled to more than 380,000 people.
On Tuesday, the UN said that it needs further safety guarantees from armed groups in Somalia if it is to help those in need.
Somalia's most dangerous militant group, al-Shabab, has promised aid groups limited access to areas under their control. The group banned foreign agencies two years ago.
Oxfam said on Tuesday night that only around $200 million in new money has been provided for relief efforts so far. An estimated $1 billion is needed to stave off a major humanitarian catastrophe.
Meanwhile, top Canadian charities have banded together to address the Somalia crisis.
A network of five Canadian NGOs, including CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec, Plan Canada and Save the Children Canada, are uniting to tackle the relief efforts.
The Humanitarian Coalition aims to reduce unnecessary competition, better educate the public on humanitarian needs, increase the impact of Canadian humanitarian responses and reduce administrative costs.
Canada has contributed more than $11 million to the crisis.

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