Famine ‘threatens hundreds of thousands’ in Somalia

Famine ‘threatens hundreds of thousands’ in Somalia

Nicholas Kay, the former special representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia
Nicholas Kay, the former special representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia

The United Nations (UN)’s former special representative for Somalia has warned of the looming threat of famine in the Horn of Africa country, calling for immediate action to stop a potential humanitarian disaster.

British diplomat Nicholas Kay, who until recently served as the UN’s envoy for Somalia, said on Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia might die or be on the verge of dying in May this year if immediate action was not taken to address the threat of famine in the African country.

Speaking at a briefing of a group of journalists, Kay warned that in order to prevent the humanitarian disaster “action is needed immediately.”

He said a conference was scheduled in London for May to address the dire situation in Somalia but warned that it might be too late to discuss action then.

“If by the time the conference in May happens we are [still] having to sound the alarm and discuss the famine issue, that is going to be too late,” he said. “There may be hundreds of thousands of people dead or about to die.”

According to the UN humanitarian office, five million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia.

The UN’s humanitarian appeal for Somalia for 2017 is 864 million dollars. The money is needed to provide assistance to 3.9 million people, but additional funds are required to cope with the worsening situation, and last month, the UN World Food Program launched a 26-million-dollar plan to respond to the drought there.


This image shows a woman and her child walking by a flock of dead goats near Dhahar in Puntland, Somalia, on December 15, 2016. (By AFP)

“Nearly three million people in Somalia face crisis and emergency acute food insecurity,” the Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned earlier this month.

Globally, the famine network said, the need for emergency food assistance is “unprecedented” — with famine also possible in South Sudan and Yemen and likely in inaccessible areas of Nigeria’s northeast.

Yemen has been under Saudi military attacks since March 2015, and Nigeria has been beleaguered by militancy.

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