UN calls for urgent scale up of aid to avoid looming catastrophe in Somalia
Xinhua News Agency
GENEVA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) warned Friday that 6.2 million people in Somalia, nearly half the African country's population, are either severely food insecure or in need of livelihood support.
"The situation has gone way beyond what we have seen already developing for now a year," said WFP's country director, Laurent Bukera, in a telephone conference.
"What we have seen over the weeks is a situation where people have gone to the limit of their ability to sustain extreme drought not only for themselves but also for their livestock which are a significant source of income, food product and milk which is critical in those areas," he added.
According to the agencies, the drought that northern regions of the country have contented with over the last year have spread throughout Somalia, further endangering a country which has been severely affected by decades of war.
UNICEF warned that children in particular are bearing the brunt of the situation on the ground.
"It is expected that 944,000 children will be acutely malnourished this year, including 185,000 who will be severely malnourished and in need of urgent lifesaving support," the UN agency highlighted.
"It is very likely that this projected number of severely malnourished children could increase 50 percent to 270,000 over the coming months," it added.
In light of this, both UNICEF and WFP warned that an immediate and massive scale-up of humanitarian aid is needed to help the country avert another catastrophe.
To be able to do this, the UN agencies said that over 450 million U.S. dollars are needed to provide life-saving assistance in the coming months. Enditem