World

43,000 estimated dead in Somalia's longest on-record drought last year

Mar 22, 2023

Nairobi [Kenya], March 22:A report said an estimated 43,000 people died during Somalia's longest drought last year, and half likely were children under five. It is the first official death toll announced in the drought affecting many parts of the Horn of Africa. At least 18,000 people, and as many as 34,000, are forecast to die in the first six months of this year."The current crisis is far from over," says the report released Monday by the World Health Organization and the United Nations children's agency and carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Somalia, neighbouring Ethiopia, and Kenya are facing a sixth failed rainy season while rising global food prices and the war in Ukraine complicate the hunger crisis. The UN and partners earlier this year said they were no longer forecasting a formal famine declaration for Somalia for now. Still, they called the situation "extremely critical", with more than 6 million people hungry in that country alone.
Famine is the extreme lack of food and a significant death rate from outright starvation or malnutrition combined with diseases like cholera. A formal famine declaration means data shows more than a fifth of households have extreme food gaps, more than 30% of children are acutely malnourished, and over two people out of 10,000 are dying every day. "The risk of famine still remains," the UN resident coordinator in Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, told journalists.
This year, some humanitarian and climate officials have warned that trends are worse than in the 2011 famine in Somalia, in which a quarter-million people died. "The death rate was increasing as the year came to a close," London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor Francesco Checchi told journalists. The hardest-hit populations are in Bay and Bakool in southwest Somalia and displaced people who have fled to the capital, Mogadishu.
Millions of livestock have died in the current crisis compounded by climate change, and insecurity as Somalia battles thousands of fighters with al-Qaida's East Africa affiliate, al-Shabab. The UN migration agency says a record high of 3.8 million people are displaced. A food security assessment released last month said that nearly a half-million children in Somalia would likely be severely malnourished this year. This time, the world is looking elsewhere, many humanitarian officials say. "Many of the traditional donors have washed their hands and focused on Ukraine," the UN resident coordinator told the visiting US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, during a briefing in Mogadishu in January.
Source: Qatar Tribune

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