Famine has spread to almost all of southern Somalia, with 750,000 persons who are facing imminent starvation, the United Nations said on Monday. And hundreds of people are dying each day despite a ramping up of aid relief.
“The entire Bay region has now been declared a famine area,” said Mark Bowden, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia .Bay is the sixth region of Somalia to face famine since the UN’s initial declaration of famine in the war-torn country in July which has left 4 million Somalis, or more than 50 percent of the population, unable to meet their food needs. Hundreds of people are dying each day and at least half of them are children, the UN’ Grainne
Moloney indicated by adding that she expected the remaining regions of southern Somalia to slip into famine by the end of the year. “The rate of malnutrition (among children) in Bay region is 58 per cent. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition,” said Moloney, the chief technical advisor for the UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.
Aid agencies are only able to get food aid to 1 million of those in need because the al Qaeda-affiliated rebel group, al Shabaab, which controls much of the south, will not allow food shipments in.
Instead, agencies are using food and cash vouchers which hungry families can exchange for commodities in local markets. “Focussing on the access that people have to food will help to stabilise the situation more than just looking entirely at food distributions as a solution,” Bowden said. Somalia is at the epicentre of a hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa region which is affecting over 13 million people.