The international community is “sleepwalking” towards a massive famine in Somalia, the NGO Save The Children warned on Thursday, calling for an urgent “wake-up call” as children begin to die and hospitals are reaching their “breaking point”.
Somalia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in at least 40 years and by September 7.1 million people – almost half of its population – will be living in hunger, 213,000 of whom will face catastrophic and urgent conditions , according to an assessment conducted by UN agencies in early June.
To date, only 27.7% of the 1.46 billion dollars needed to end this food crisis have been provided.
“The world is sleepwalking toward another catastrophic famine, the kind we promised would never happen again. It's time to wake up. The response in Somalia is grossly underfunded,” Save the Children Somalia Director Mohamud Mohamed Hassan said in a statement.
“Famine is gripping Somalia and clinics for malnourished children are near breaking point. Children are dying now and we are in a race against time to prevent that,” he adds.
The NGO points out that in Baidoa, one of the hardest hit regions located in the south of the country, an establishment it manages admitted a record number of 324 children in May, almost three times more than at the same period last year. And over the first 19 days of June, 330 had already been received.
Since January 1, 22 children have died there, almost as many as in 2021 alone (23), adds Save The Children .
“People are overwhelmed by a deadly combination of factors that far exceeds what we saw in 2011,” when the country’s last famine killed 250,000 people, believes Mohamud Mohamed Hassan.
The Horn of Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia) is experiencing one of the worst droughts in more than 40 years, after four failed rainy seasons since 2020 which have decimated herds and crops .
The next rainy season expected from October also threatens to be insufficient, according to forecasts.
To these climatic factors has been added in recent months the explosion in the price of certain foodstuffs, due in particular to the war in Ukraine.
Since January 2021, more than 800,000 people have left their homes in search of aid, according to the UN.