All south Somalia slipping into famine: UN
The whole of drought- and conflict-wracked southern Somalia is heading into famine as the Horn of Africa food crisis deepens, the United Nations said yesterday.
In a report for countries sending aid, the UN's umbrella humanitarian agency OCHA said the "crisis in southern Somalia is expected to continue to worsen through 2011, with all areas of the south slipping into famine."
Appealing for a further $1.4 billion "to provide life-saving assistance to more than 12 million people" across the four countries of the Horn, OCHA said the overall emergency was likely to continue growing for at least 3-4 months.
The UN declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia -- where 3.7 million people are going hungry -- on July 20 and since then tens of thousands of Somalis have flooded into northern Kenya.
The situation was severe right across the Horn, in Somalia, northern Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia, OCHA said. Food shortages were expected to reach crisis levels in refugee areas in August and September, according to the report.
"The areas of highest concern for the coming six months have been identified as southern and central Somalia, the north, south and east of Ethiopia, north-eastern and south-eastern Kenya, and the refugee camps in Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia."
The report said the situation in the worst affected areas of Ethiopia and Kenya were expected to ease from emergency to crisis levels towards the end of this year.
But the deterioration in southern Somalia was likely "given the very high levels of both severe malnutrition and under-five mortality in combination with worsening pastoral conditions, a continued increase in local cereal prices, and a below-average harvest."
The crisis was intensified, it said, by fighting in Somalia -- much of which is controlled by Islamist Al-Shabaab militias who have been preventing some aid agencies bringing in supplies.
"If access for humanitarian aid and workers to worst-affected areas of Somalia does not improve, continued flows of refugees to the Kenyan and Ethiopian borders can be expected," OCHA said.