Thursday, July 21, 2011

UN declares famine in south Somalia

Refugees and children wait to go to a refugee camp in the Ethiopian town of Dolo Ado, about 1 kilometer north of the border with Somalia, July 9, 2011.

Source: Press TV

The United Nations has declared famine in two parts of southern Somalia as a severe drought is affecting more than 10 million people in the Horn of Africa.

"The United Nations declared today that famine exists in two regions of southern Somalia: southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle," a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia said on Wednesday.

The two regions have been affected by drought, conflict and poverty as tens of thousands of Somalis have already died in the worst hunger emergency in more than half a century.

Tens of thousands of desperate people are trying to flee their country to neighboring Kenya or Ethiopia.

The Kenyan Camp Dadaab has been overflowing with newly-arrived refugees who are forced into the camp due to the persisting drought and famine in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Officials have warned that famine could spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months unless urgent action is taken.

The UK-based charity group Oxfam has criticized the European governments over their slow response to the drought in the Horn of Africa.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia remains one of the countries generating the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) in the world.

The United Nations refugee agency reported in April that the number of Somali refugees arriving in neighboring countries during the first quarter of 2011 has more than doubled in comparison to the same period in 2010.

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