Acute hunger threatens 1 in 4 Somalis: UN
After three seasons of no rain and a fourth coming on the way, the UN warns that about one in four people in Somalia are facing acute hunger.
Nearly one in four people in Somalia are facing acute hunger due to the drought ravaging the conflict-stricken country, after three seasons of poor rains and a fourth on the way, the United Nations warned Monday.
The crisis is expected to get worse in the war-torn nation that ranks among the world's most vulnerable to climate change, leaving 4.6 million people in dire need of food aid by May 2022, the UN said. The international body added that the country had not seen a third consecutive failed rainy season in over 30 years.
In a statement, the UN warned that shortages of food, water, and land for grazing have already forced 169,000 people to flee their homes, and that number is expected to increase, hitting 1.4 million within six months.
In recent years, natural disasters have been the main driver of displacement in Somalia.
"It is a perfect storm that is gathering," Adam Abdelmoula, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, told AFP in an interview. Abdelmoula also warned that 300,000 children aged five and under were at risk of severe malnutrition in the coming months.
"They will perish if we don't help them in a timely manner," he said, as the UN called for nearly $1.5 billion in aid to help tackle the crisis.
Nearly half of the country's population of 15.9 million will require humanitarian aid and protection in 2022, an increase of 30% in a year, the UN said.
At least seven in 10 Somalis live below the poverty line, and the drought has destroyed already precarious livelihoods, with families losing their livestock and grappling with high inflation as crop production falls.
"There is a high risk that without immediate humanitarian assistance, children, women and men will start dying of starvation in Somalia," the country's minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management Khadija Diriye said.
An ongoing crisis
Somalia's government declared the drought a humanitarian emergency last month.
The war-torn African country is on the frontline of climate change and has experienced more than 30 climate-related hazards since 1990, including 12 droughts and 19 floods.
The Federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Khadija Diriye, had said that families are losing their livestock, a key source of livelihood, and may starve to death in the coming months.
“I am particularly worried about children, women, the elderly and disabled people who continue to bear the brunt of Somalia’s humanitarian crisis”, she said.
Experts say extreme weather events are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.