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Drought Affects Almost Half of Somalia as Famine Looms

FILE - Somalis who fled drought-stricken areas of their country sit at a makeshift camp on the outskirts of the capital, Mogadishu, Feb. 4, 2022. Thousands of desperate families have fled a severe drought across large parts of Somalia.

MOGADISHU — At a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia’s special envoy for humanitarian issues on Monday said more than six million Somalis were affected by the record drought.

Abdurahman Abdishakur Warsameh said the number of people suffering was quickly approaching half of Somalia’s population.

Warsameh said the drought has hit 72 of Somalia’s 84 districts and that six of them were already facing famine-like conditions with extreme food insecurity.

He says our people are starting to die now. Deaths have begun, famine is looming in some areas, and drought is turning into famine. Warsameh says the Somali people at home and abroad should help us in taking on some of the responsibility.

The special envoy did not give any figures on how many Somalis have died from hunger but appealed for aid to reach those in need.

FILE - Somalis who fled drought-stricken areas arrive at a makeshift camp on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 4, 2022.

Warsameh said the current drought, the worst in forty years, had displaced nearly 700,000 Somalis from the countryside and forced them to seek help in nearby cities.

He said the U.N. and aid agencies requested $1.4 billion for drought relief but so far received only $58 million.

Warsameh said international aid was more focused on the COVID pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and crises in Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen.

The humanitarian envoy also said not much attention is given to humanitarian needs because of Somalia’s focus on politics last year and a half of delayed elections.

International aid agencies warned Monday that the threat of starvation was worsening in Somalia and neighboring countries across Ethiopia and Kenya.

The Horn of Africa region is facing a record fifth rainy season without adequate rain, according to meteorological experts and humanitarian groups, which include U.N. agencies.