UN declares famine in three more areas of Somalia

08/04/2011 18:13

WireUpdate:  UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) -- The United Nations on Wednesday declared a famine in three more areas of Somalia where acute malnutrition and starvation has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said the Afgoye corridor outside Mogadishu, the capital itself, and the Middle Shabelle region are now in a state of famine, bringing to five the number of regions with famine conditions in the Horn of Africa country. On July 20, the UN declared outright famine in Lower Shabelle and in southern Bakool region.

According to the United Nations, a famine can be declared when at least 20 percent of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope, acute malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent, and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that $1.4 billion is still required to respond to the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, which has also affected large areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti and has left an estimated 12.4 million people in need of assistance.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, noted that one of the contributing factors to the famine has been the ongoing fighting in the country. He said that some of the extremists continue to intimidate the population by preventing the movement of people from the worst-hit areas.

"We call for the humanitarian agencies to be given unhindered access to all areas to provide desperately needed help," Mahiga said, adding that the insecurity in many areas is also threatening the work of aid organizations.

According to the UN, the drought in the Eastern Horn of Africa is expected to continue until early 2012, and the number of people in acute livelihood crisis is expected to increase from 8.8 million in the coming months.

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