UN official warns southern Somalia is close to famine
United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has warned that Somalia is on the brink of famine following the worst drought in four decades.
At a press conference in Mogadishu, Griffiths said he had “concrete indications” that a famine could occur in the South Bay area by the end of the year.
Griffiths was in Somalia last week to assess the impact of the drought and speak with those affected.
His visit to Mogadishu, where most drought-affected Somalis live, was followed by a visit to Baidoa, one of two southern towns where many people are at risk of starvation.
While in Baidoa, Griffiths visited camps for displaced people and hospitals treating malnourished children.
“I have been deeply shocked over the past few days by the level of pain and suffering that so many Somalis are enduring,” he said. “Famine is upon us and today we send the final warning.”
Griffiths warned that Baidoa and nearby Burhakaba will be at the epicenter of the famine if no action is taken to prevent it.
“The Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis report, released today, shows concrete indications that famine will occur in two areas of Bay region in south-central Somalia, between October and December of this year,” he said. “The impending famine is similar to the famine that occurred in the country from 2010 to 2011.”
The famine that hit Somalia in 2011 killed nearly 260,000 Somalis, half of them children.
Currently, the situation in the Bay Area is just short of an official declaration of famine. But thousands of people there are threatened with starvation.
Overall, the United Nations and the Somali government say 7.8 million people across the country are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance as the drought drags on and the food situation worsens.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has contributed to the crisis in Somalia, which is suffering from a shortage of humanitarian aid as international donors focus on Europe.
Somalia received at least 90% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine before the war and was hit hard by shortages and soaring food prices.