UN humanitarian chief says ‘famine at the door’ in Somalia

The UN humanitarian chief has warned that parts of Somalia are on the brink of famine after being hit by four failed rainy seasons that have caused a devastating drought.

In a statement on Monday, Martin Griffiths, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that “famine was at the door” and was likely to occur in south-central Somalia between October and December this year.

“The drought, the worst in four decades, is forecast to continue. This is, in those often-used words, and no more true than here, a humanitarian catastrophe. We know that the needs will grow,” he added.

At least 1 million people in Somalia have been displaced by the worst drought in decades, driven by climate change, which is also affecting the wider Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and Kenya.

Humanitarian agencies have been sounding the alarm over the deteriorating situation for months, with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) saying last month that the number of people at risk of starvation across the region had increased to 22 million.

In Somalia alone, the number of people facing crisis hunger levels is 7.8 million, or about half the population, while about one million people have fled their homes in a desperate search for food and water, UN agencies say.

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