End of Somalia famine only ‘temporary respite’ – UN officials

Somalis at a refugee camp. The United Nations has declared an end to famine conditions in Somalia on February 3. Photo by: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation / CC BY-NC-ND

The international community has three months to step up and further coordinate its efforts in Somalia to ensure the East African country does not slip back into famine.

The United Nations declared Feb. 3 an end to famine conditions in Somalia. In their latest report, the Food Security and Nutritional Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning System Network noted that the number of Somalis in need of aid has dropped to 2.34 million — from 4 million during the onset of the crisis — due to the combined effect of rains, substantial crop harvest and international humanitarian response.

But that’s still 31 percent of the country’s population suffering from hunger, and U.N. officials are urging for continued action.

“The crisis is not over,” Jose Graziano da Silva, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s new director-generalsaid. “It can only be resolved with a combination of rains and continued, coordinated, long-term actions that build up the resilience of local populations and link relief with development.”

Graziano noted that the response in the three months until Somalia’s next rainy season is especially crucial. Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Somalia, also emphasized the need for sustained response. The latest gains in Somalia, he said, are still very fragile and only represents a “temporary respite.”

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.