UN agencies appeal for funds to help avert possible famine in Somalia

Four United Nations (UN) agencies on Tuesday appealed for an urgent injection of funds to enable a scale-up of life-saving assistance in Somalia which was facing famine conditions.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that a perfect storm of poor rain, skyrocketing food prices and huge funding shortfalls leaves almost 40 percent of Somalis on the brink.

“Millions of Somalis are at risk of sliding into famine as the impact of a prolonged drought continues to destroy lives and livelihoods, and growing needs outpace available resources for humanitarian assistance,” the UN agencies warned in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The statement follows the release of a new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report that found 6 million Somalis, or almost 40 percent of the populationfacing extreme levels of food insecurity, with pockets of famine conditions likely in six areas of the country.

Adam Abdelmoula, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the projection for the risk of famine in six locations was extremely worrisome and should serve as a very serious warning.

“The reality is that time is not on our side and many more lives and livelihoods are bound to be lost in case of further funding delays,” Abdelmoula said, calling on donors to act decisively and help scale up resources to match the rapidly increasing needs, save more lives and rescue more livelihoods for the people of Somalia.

The relief agencies have collectively reached almost 2 million people with humanitarian assistance as of February, but a critical gap in donor funding means they cannot sustain and scale up their support to meet the growing needs.

If this gap is not urgently addressed, the agencies warned, it will contribute to worse outcomes with a real risk of widespread famine. The last time such a humanitarian tragedy struck Somalia was in 2011 when famine conditions killed a quarter of a million people.

WFP Somalia Representative and Country Director, El-Khidir Daloum, said they were about to start taking food from the hungry to feed the starving.  -Xinhua

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