Famine Declared in Another Region of Somalia

While many have already forgotten about the famine in East Africa, we will continue to cover the famine in the Horn of Africa and offer ways everyone can donate to the cause. Although after many relief efforts have been increased to the area, the conditions continue to worsen in the famine-stricken region. Unfortunately, yesterday the UN has declared yet another region in Somalia to be in famine, which raises the number of affected areas to six. Just two weeks ago, the UN had added the fifth region to the famine count, making the number of victims higher in just a short time frame.

Not only has the number of famine victims and refugees increased, but so has the resistance of the insurgent groups controlling those regions and preventing them from accessing relief resources. According to the Guardian, Al-Shabaab Islamist insurgents deny that there is famine in areas under their control and have blocked major western aid agencies from providing urgent food supplies. Apart from a few charities, such as Islamic Relief and the Red Cross, most western agencies are banned by al-Shabaab, making it difficult for the UN's World Food Programme, to reach the most distressed areas. Most of the aid being distributed is going only to those who have managed to make it to Mogadishu or to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Also in the Guardian's news update, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, states that "the latest round of surveys shows a continuing deterioration in Somalia. More people are in need of assistance and in some areas there has been a deepening of the crisis. We also know that people will have major needs for assistance well past the end of this year."

While short rains are about to start in Somalia, he said the UN should capitalize on them to alleviate the current food crisis by the end of the year. But the rains also bring increased risks of disease. "Cholera, malaria and measles could dramatically increase death rates in an already weakened population," he said. Clearly additional help will be needed as well with the onset of more diseases such as those.

Upon hearing this news, we can only hope that more aid becomes available to those in the Horn of Africa and that conditions get better for the sake of those affected. Please continue to stay tuned for more updates on that region of the world and check out these ways on how you can help.

Photo: United Nations Photo