Famine in Somalia: we must act before it is too late
The Monde’s online article (quoted hereunder) details the criteria for this terrible definition. It is noteworthy that for the UN, the word “famine” designates “an extreme food crisis in which children, but also adults, are starving.” In other words, people cross the threshold of malnutrition to the fatal state of under-nutrition.
The UN has also stated that this is “the worst food crisis in Africa” in 20 years:
12 million people are affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa and the surge in food prices has made it very difficult, even impossible for them to obtain food regularly. Cereal prices have increased by 270% in some areas.
“If we do not act now, the famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia in the next 2 months due to poor harvests and outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said Mark Bowden, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, in Nairobi.
Children are most at risk, for when they suffer from malnutrition they are also more vulnerable to common infections such as measles and acute diarrhea.
According to UNICEF, “Half a million children are facing imminent life-threatening conditions” in Somalia.
The next rains are expected in November for a harvest by January 2012; but by then, it will be too late. Confronted with the urgency of the situation, the UN has called for action. Great Britain and Germany have already agreed to quickly provide a total of over 60 million Euros. On Monday, July 25, the FAO will hold a special meeting in Rome to deliver additional, emergency, international aid to help stem the famine, before plagues such as cholera, exacerbate the situation.