Famine eases in 3 Somali regions: UN
Children from southern Somalia get cooked food at a local NGO compound in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday, September 14, 2011.
The United Nations has announced that three regions in Somalia have emerged from the famine but warned that nearly 250,000 people still face imminent starvation in the African country, Press TV reports.
The UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit said on Friday the food crisis no longer existed in the southern regions of Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle.
The crisis was downgraded from Phase 5-Famine to Phase 4-Emergency for November and December 2011 due to the substantial humanitarian assistance provided by aid agencies, the UN said.
Despite improvements, the food crisis persists in three other regions still in the famine zone, and the deaths will continue over the coming months, a UN statement said.
"Death rates, especially for young children, remain extremely high, in part due to continued outbreaks of measles, cholera, and malaria," the statement added.
A UN official said Somalia “still remained the world's most critical situation” with the rates of malnutrition “still unacceptably high.”
Nearly USD 800 million has been raised to ease the disaster that originated from the worst drought to hit East of Africa in 60 years, the UN says, adding that more than USD 1 billion more is needed over the next year.
Some reports question the UN's upbeat assessment of the situation in Somalia by claiming that conditions are getting worse in the Horn of Africa country.
The UN needs to show that the aid money is properly spent with a good impact on the crisis in Somalia, a senior aid worker familiar with the situation in the crisis-hit state said, requesting not to be named.
Insecurity remains the biggest obstacle to the humanitarian effort in central and southern Somalia, mostly controlled by the al-Shabab militant group which is fighting the Western-backed transitional government of Somalia.
“If farmers are not able to work in safety now, there may be yet another failed harvest in January and a prolonged food crisis well into next year,” said Senait Gebregziabher, Oxfam aid group's country director for Somalia.