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Somalia faces worst famine in decades amid war in Ukraine

by Erika DuBose
Somalia faces worst famine in decades amid war in Ukraine
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Facing a historic drought, the impact of the war in Ukraine, and a lack of government oversight, Somalia is in crisis. And current support efforts for the east African country isn’t enough to save people from famine, particularly children.

Following the worst drought in forty years, Somalia is on the brink of famine. Aid workers report that Somalian children are at greatest risk, with some even dying in plain sight. Like many African countries, Somalia relies on wheat imports from Ukraine, which is currently defending its right to exist amid a Russian invasion.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report by the United Nations, at least 213,000 people in the worst-hit areas are expected to be facing famine by September. Only a massive funding effort can save hundreds of thousands from death. 

View of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Image: Axmadyare

World leaders expected to increase aid to Somalia as famine worsens

Meanwhile, those funds are not expected to materialize. Last year, the G7 and the United Kingdom promised over $7B in aid for African countries facing crisis, but little went toward Somalia, which now sits squarely in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. 

According to Claire Sanford, deputy humanitarian director of Save the Children, “I can honestly say in my 23 years of responding to humanitarian crisis, this is by far the worst I’ve seen, particularly in terms of the level of impact on children. The starvation that my colleagues and I witnessed in Somalia has escalated even faster than we feared.”

Meanwhile, G7 leaders are meeting this week in Germany, and will be asked to provide more financial support for Somalia. What has previously been promised to help avert the crisis is nowhere near enough.

According to Michael Dunford, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) regional director for east Africa, “We need money and we need it now. Will we be able to avert [a famine in Somalia]? Unless there is … a massive scaling-up from right now, it won’t be possible, quite frankly. The only way, at this point, is if there is a massive investment in humanitarian relief, and all the stakeholders, all the partners, come together to try to avert this.”

A water distribution point in a camp for internally displaced people in Baidoa, Somalia, February 2022. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Link available to donate

Somalia has endured 4 consecutive failed rainy seasons, combined with a historic drought. Somalia is also directly impacted by the war in Ukraine, causing supply-chain difficulties in reaching the Horn of Africa. 

In 2011, Somalia faced a famine that killed over 250,000 people. Now, more than a decade later, conditions have worsened. 

Nearly 4.8 million people, or roughly 31% of the population in Somalia is “acutely food insecure” according to the IPC

According to Dunford, “We have genuinely failed as an international community that we have allowed the situation to get to the extent it is at the moment. In 2011, we vowed as a community that we would never, ever let this happen again. And yet we have failed in that promise.”

To donate to the United Nations for Somalia please visit the Somalian Humanitarian Fund

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