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UN warns Somalia faces risk of famine by mid year if rains fail

Somalia faces a risk of famine in mid-2022 if the forthcoming April to June Gu rains fail, purchasing power declines to record lows, and food assistance does not reach areas of high concern, warns a United Nations-backed food security report released on Monday.

The joint assessment by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), a project managed by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) says up to five million people will require urgent humanitarian assistance to prevent worse food security outcomes in Somalia.

“Unless we are empowered to act now, by a significant injection of resources, we will start to see irreversible loss of lives and collapse of livelihoods and increased population displacement from the rural areas, as we have in the not-so-distant past,” FAO Representative in Somalia, Etienne Peterschmitt warned.

“Data is very clear. Our window to prevent the worst is closing fast. If we cannot reach rural communities where they are in the coming months, the burden of collective responsibility for what is to come will be heavy indeed,” he said in the report which was released in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

The report says water shortages, livestock deaths and skyrocketing food prices exacerbated by ongoing conflict and global supply shocks have caused a rapid deterioration of food security.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia was already grave due to decades of conflict, recurrent climate shocks and disease outbreaks, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the UN.

Even before the current drought, an estimated 7.7 million Somalis were in need of humanitarian assistance and protection this year, up 30 percent from a year ago.

The UN says the situation has deteriorated, with the current drought wiping out crop harvests and livestock dying due to a lack of water and pasture, depriving many pastoral communities of their only source of income.

The report says the UN, government and humanitarian partners are ramping up responses in order to meet critical needs and to avoid disastrous consequences.

However, without additional funding soon, the response will come to a standstill at the worst possible time, the FAO said.

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