Somalis needing food aid increase to 6.7 mln: UN

A child eats food at Misan Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, on Feb. 12, 2017. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

MOGADISHU, May 18 (Xinhua) — An estimated number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia has increased to 6.7 million, more than half the population of the country, the UN said on Wednesday.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate despite the rains, which are below average in all areas.

The OCHA said in its latest report on drought situation in Somalia that the ongoing drought also increases risk of famine-induced displacement in the region.

Since November 2016, more than 683,000 people in Somalia have been internally displaced by drought, including more than 377,000 displaced during the first quarter of 2017.

“The humanitarian situation in Somalia has deteriorated further and an elevated risk of famine in 2017 persists in some parts. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased to 6.7 million people, up from 6.2 million,” said the UN agency.

According to the OCHA, a total of 3.2 million people are expected to face “crisis and emergency levels” of food insecurity through June.

The prolonged drought has led to a lack of water and the largest outbreak of cholera Somalia has seen in the last five years with nearly 38,000 cases and almost 683 deaths so far in 2017, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

“With the beginning of the rainy season and projected flooding, these numbers are expected to increase to 50,000 cases by the end of June,” said the OCHA.

Cases of measles are also on the rise with over 7,600 cases reported this year, 65 percent of them affecting children under five.

The Gu rainfall started two weeks later than normal this year and has been below average in all areas, except in the northeast where rainfall totals have been near average.

To respond to the growing needs, humanitarian partners in Somalia have revised the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017.

The revised HRP presented at the London Somalia Conference on May 11 seeks 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to reach 5.5 million people with life-saving assistance in 2017.

In response to the early alarm that Somalia is at risk of famine at the beginning of the year, donors at the London conference provided 634 million dollars since the beginning of the year. The remaining gap is of 875 million dollars.