Over 750,000 Somalis will die without urgent help
MORE than 750,000 people will die of starvation in Somalia in the next four months unless urgent help arrives within weeks, the United Nations said yesterday as it announced that the country's famine had spread further.
A sixth region, Bay in central Somalia, is in famine, according to data released following recent assessment missions. The studies show that more than half of the country, or four million people, need food aid to keep them from dying, but aid workers are concerned that the international fund-raising effort is slowing.
Already "tens of thousands have died" and "hundreds" more are still dying each day, the UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit said.
"In total, four million people are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of death in the coming four months in the absence of adequate response," the report concluded.
Starvation in several more areas is expected to worsen in the coming months, before rains due in October water seeds ahead of harvests hoped for early next year.
"We can't underestimate the scale of the crisis," said Mark Bowden, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia.
Banadir hospital in central Mogadishu is one of only two hospitals able to hold off the final deadly stages of malnutrition, which weakens children so much that they become prone to other potentially fatal illnesses, mostly measles or diarrhoea infections.
More than 100,000 people have arrived in Somalia's seaside capital in recent months, driven from their rural homes by the hope of aid. The UN's World Food Programme is handing out more than 100,000 hot meals a day.
Barry Came, the organisation's spokesman, said there was hope that more than 1.9 million people would soon regularly be given food, more than double the number being reached now.
"This is probably the most difficult operation in the world," he said. "It is a conflict zone unlike other conflict zones, in that it is extremely difficult to get on the ground with assistance." (© The Daily Telegraph, London)