The United Nations is warning of a catastrophe with predictions of 750,000 deaths due to famine in Somalia in the coming months.
Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, called southern Somalia the epicenter of the famine area in the Horn of Africa. The world body said that famine had spread to a sixth area of the country, where 4 million people, more than half of the population, is said to be in crisis due to a combination of natural and man-made causes.
We cant give an exact figure, but we can say tens of thousands of people have died over the last three to four months, more than half of whom are children. That translates into hundreds a day, Mr. Bowden told the New York Times.
The region has been hit by a drought that is expected to continue into later this year. However, the crisis also stems from Somalias absence of a stable central government during more than 20 years of civil war. Militia such as the Shabab, an Islamist militant group, steal food supplied by international aid organizations and stop people from leaving drought-stricken areas.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network and the U.N.s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit said it will take a massive, multisectoral response to prevent additional deaths and total livelihood/social collapse in Somalia.
Although some relief might be diverted to militants and obstacles remain, the U.N. and other relief organizations cannot lessen their efforts to get whatever food and aid they can to keep Somalis alive.