UN: Somalia Famine Over, but Millions Still Need Food Aid

Posted February 3rd, 2012 at 4:10 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations has officially declared an end to the famine in Somalia, but warns that nearly a third of the war-torn country's population is still in need of urgent food aid.

The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization said Friday renewed rain and supplies of fertilizer, seed, and food aid helped the nation improve from “famine” to a “humanitarian emergency.” But the agency warned those gains were fragile and could be reversed without continued support.

The famine was the worst in 60 years and killed tens of thousands of people. It forced hundreds of thousands of Somalis to flee to refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Somali capital of Mogadishu in search of food and water. At the height of the crisis, three-quarters of a million people were at risk of dying.

But the U.N. report said the crisis was not over, and said that it was stepping up its efforts in the Horn of Africa to prevent the next drought from becoming a famine.

The U.N. says “famine” means two adults or four children per 10,000 people die of hunger each day and a third of children are acutely malnourished.

The U.N. first officially declared a famine in two parts of southern Somalia in July after a severe and prolonged regional drought. The famine later spread to include six out of eight regions in the Horn of Africa country.

Efforts to deliver aid to Somalia have been hampered by militant group al-Shabab, which has restricted international relief efforts in many of the areas they control.