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Geopolitics

Why The UN Is Sounding The Famine Alarm In Somalia

Already recognized as a humanitarian crisis, the ongoing drought in Somalia has now been officially classified as a "famine." The United Nations made the annoucement Wednesday.

Somali refugees arrive every day in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in eastern Kenya.
Somali refugees arrive every day in the Dadaab Refugee Camp in eastern Kenya.

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

The announcement came as no surprise. On Wednesday, the United Nations said that two regions in southern Somalia -- Bakool and Lower Shabelle -- are suffering from famine. Faced with the worst drought in 60 years, the UN estimates that some 350,000 people in the region are without food.

The crisis began weeks ago, but this is the first time the UN has used the term "famine," something it defined as "an extreme food crisis killing children but also adults' in a recent press release. The term is employed when malnutrition in adults and children reaches 20 to 40% and mortality rates are equal or superior to two deaths per 10,000 people per day. In Somalia that number is at 7.4.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is used to put a number on the crisis, placing a country or region into one of five categories:

  1. Food security
  2. Borderline food insecurity
  3. Acute food and livelihood crisis
  4. Humanitarian emergency
  5. Famine

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) implemented set standards to measure the IPC during the 2005 food crisis in Somalia, looking at the level of malnutrition, access to water and the country's economic situation.

Data is collected by NGOs and the UN. Still, the country concerned has the final say in the ranking. Even though in the case of Somalia, the UN made the announcement without consulting with the Somali government.

In addition to rating the severity of a crisis, the IPC also allows gives a clear indication of how much international and humanitarian aid is needed.

The FAO will meet in Rome on July 25 to convince member states to react quickly and supply additional food aid to Somalia.

Read the full story in French by Antoine Bouthier
Photo - DFID – UK Department for International development


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