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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 28 November, 2014

UN: Somali famine is over, but action still needed

The UN said that long-awaited rains, coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response are the main reasons for the improvement.

File: A woman carries a child and a tin of vegetable oil she just received at a food distribution center in Mogadishu, Somalia.
File: A woman carries a child and a tin of vegetable oil she just received at a food distribution center in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Image: Ben Curtis/AP/Press Association Images

THE UNITED NATIONS has said that the famine in Somalia is over – but the crisis in the Horn of Africa is not.

The UN made the announcement at the weekend, declaring an end of famine conditions in Somalia but warning that efforts to restore food security and “help people resume normal lives” are still needed.

At one point there were 4 million people in Somalia in need of emergency humanitarian assistance, a figure which has dropped to 2.3 million, said the UN. This represents 31 per cent of the country’s population.

On top of this, 325,000 Somalian children are acutely malnourished.

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), told reporters that “long-awaited rains, coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months, are the main reasons for this improvement.”

The drought that hit the Horn of Africa in 2011 led to tens of thousands of deaths, the UN reported, and 9.5 million people still require emergency assistance in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

This is down from 13.3 million people in September 2011.

Almost 300,000 Somali refugees fled to Kenya, Ethopia, Djibouti and Yemen due to the crisis in the past year.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos warned:

While sustained humanitarian efforts and a good harvest have helped to mitigate the crisis, we must not forget that the progress made is fragile.
Without continued and generous support from the international community, these gains could be reversed. Continued conflict and lack of access to people in need remain major operational challenges.

Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somila said that the country could “easily slip back” unless the current levels of support are maintained.

He also said that while the emergency assistance has helped to reduce the high levels of mortality, it has not “solved” the problems being experienced in the country.

Read: Failure to respond led to thousands of needless deaths in Africa – aid agencies>

Read: Concerns raised for humanitarian work after Somali militants ban aid agencies>

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