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Somali famine spreads further, deaths are in the thousands

Translated Tuesday 6 September 2011, by Jayne McKenzie and reviewed by Bill Scoble

A sixth Somali region has been hit by famine. Hundreds of people die every day, over half of whom are children.

The UN’s Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) is concerned about the progression of the drought striking the Horn of Africa, especially Somalia. The famine zone itself (defined by 2 deaths from starvation each day per 10,000 people) has spread to a sixth region. Several tens of thousands of people have already died, and 750,000 are at risk of dying in the near future.

The FSNAU are denouncing the response to the famine as clearly insufficient. At this rate, the famine will most likely spread further over the next four months, endangering the lives of the 4 million people currently in crisis. Not only is the relief promised by the international community likely to be insufficient according to numerous NGOs, but also only 59% of the guaranteed funds have been paid.

Famine has spread to the South, and to the centre of Somalia, regions controlled in the majority by Al-Shabaab islamists. These zones are in a state of civil war, making the delivery of humanitarian relief even more difficult. 400,000 of the region’s inhabitants have already fled towards the capital city, Mogadishu.

A famine is strictly defined by the United Nations as a situation where more than 20% of households face an extreme shortage of food, 30% of the population is severely malnourished and the daily death toll reaches 2 in 10,000 people.

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