UN urges scale-up in resources to avert famine in Somalia

by IANS |

Mogadishu, June 22 (IANS) The United Nations humanitarian agency has called for a massive scale-up in resources to prevent famine in Somalia.

Adam Abdelmoula, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, warned that acute malnutrition is about to increase unless the response plan is scaled up in a major way, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate rapidly. Already 1.5 million children below the age of five are malnourished, and we expect that 356,000 of these may not survive through the end of September this year," Abdelmoula said in a statement issued on Monday evening in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The UN official spoke in Dollow, a region in southern Somalia, where he witnessed the consequences of drought during a joint visit with Somalia's Special Envoy for Drought Response, Abdirahman Abdishakur.

The UN said the escalating drought which has ravaged several parts of Somalia due to failed rains has devastated many lives in Somalia.

The country has suffered through four unprecedented and consecutive failed rainy seasons, something that had never happened in the country's history.

" As many as 7.1 million Somalis are in need of food assistance. If the fifth rainy season fails, this number will increase significantly," Abdelmoula said.

He added that eight of Somalia's 90 districts are already in famine-like conditions categorised as catastrophic. More are bound to slide into this dreaded category if the funding gap is not met.

"I continuously appeal to our donors, traditional or new, to spend the money upfront so that we can save lives as we look at a fifth failed rainy season," he said.

Abdelmoula was on Monday in Dollow where he visited new settlements of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and health centres and met with community elders and humanitarian partners.

"We have seen that people have come to Dollow to look for assistance because here they have access to aid agencies," Abdishakur said during the visit to the Kabasa IDP camp.

"But we have witnessed many of them who arrived just a few days ago who are in desperate need and who have not received assistance," he added.

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