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More areas of Somalia 'face famine threat'
UN warns situation in drought-stricken southern Somalia is deteriorating, raising dangers of malnutrition and disease.
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2011 09:54
Communicable diseases pose a high risk even though internal displacements have decreased [Reuters]

More areas of southern Somalia face the threat of famine and disease as the situation deteriorates in the region, despite international aid efforts, the United Nations says.

Almost all regions of the country's south are expected to be hit by the crisis, according to a report released on Friday by the UN's Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"The situation in Somalia is deteriorating," the report said. "The Somalia Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit warns ... that almost all regions of the south could face famine".
 
The report said that internal displacement, which had initially exacerbated the problem, was now decreasing. But rates of malnutrition and mortality are increasing, it said.

The report also highlights the threat from the continued spread of communicable diseases.

Disease spreading

In Ethiopia's Kobe refugee camp, deaths among children under the age of five have risen from 12.9 deaths a day per 10,000 children (recorded last week) to 15.3 deaths a day recorded this week.

That rise is primarily due to a spread of measles in the area, the report said.

The number of refugees in the four Dollo Ado camps of Ethiopia has now crossed the 120,000 mark as well. Almost 80,000 Somalis arrived in these camps this year alone.

The state of health of those arriving in Dollo Ado continues to be extremely poor, the reports states. Land for a fifth camp has been identified to house about 18,000 Somali refugees who have crossed into Ethiopia at Gode.

In Kenya, one case of cholera, traceable to Somalia, was reported this week in Hagadera camp.

Twenty years of civil war

The UN has described Somalia, where a civil war has been going on since 1991, as facing the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.

Famine was declared in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of southern Somalia in July.

It later spread to three further areas, including into the Somali capital Mogadishu and the Afgoye corridor, the world's largest camp for displaced people.

Famine implies that at least 20 per cent of households face extreme food shortages, acute malnutrition in over 30 per cent of people, and two deaths a day per 10,000 people, according to the UN's definition.

About 12.4 million people in the Horn of Africa, including parts of  Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, are affected by the worst drought in decades in the region and are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

Al-Shabab fighters, who control parts of the country, withdrew from positions in Mogadishu earlier this month, in what they called a "tactical" move, but they continue to restrict aid into areas they control in famine-hit southern regions.

Al Jazeera's correspondents in the area report that there are fears that al-Shabab will launch fresh attacks on Mogadishu to reclaim the area, now that the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, has ended.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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