UN declares famine in Somalia

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Somali famine
Nairobi, Jul 20: "The United Nations declared today that famine exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool, and Lower Shabelle," revealed a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia. The UN official also warned that the famine would soon spread to other parts of Somalia.

"If we don't act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks," Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia was quoted as saying to reporters. Other areas like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti are also witnessing extreme drought conditions.

The agency stated that the death rate at the drought-stricken country is exceeding all levels. There have also been considerable deaths at the refugee camps. The UNHCR's chief of public health section, Paul Spiegel has been quoted as saying, "The situation in Dolo Ado is very dire."

The situation at the Ethiopian refugee camp is also pretty pathetic with thousands of Somali refugees arriving in recent weeks. Spiegel added, "It's 15 times the baseline and the preponderance of the deaths are among under-five children." The mortality rate came to a scary 7.4 death per 10,000 a day that is a marked above the sub-Saharan baseline rate of 0.5. The death rate of children is twice than that of the overall population.

The UN also cited an al-Qaeda inspired movement to be the reason for hampering of humanitarian efforts, especially that of Somalia's Shebab rebels. They are understood to be disrupting relief work by humanitarian workers. These workers were accused of being Western spies and Christian crusaders.

Johnnie Carson, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs was quoted as saying, "Al-Shebab's activities have clearly made the current situation much worse.We call on all of those in south-central Somalia who have it within their authority to allow refugee groups and organizations to operate there to do so."

An acute case of malnutrition is also reported in drought stricken Somalia with the malnutrition rate reaching 26.8 percent in June, while the baseline rate should be below 1.0 percent. The situation in July is however seeing a marginal increase.

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