Over 50,000 Somali children face death, says UN

As drought hits, about 4.7 million people, nearly 40% of the population, need some kind of humanitarian assistance.

Gil Ronen ,

Food allocation in Somalia (file)
Food allocation in Somalia (file)

More than 50,000 children in Somalia face death because of the ongoing drought there, the UN said Tuesday.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the malnutrition situation is "alarming," adding that nearly one million Somalis, or one in 12 of the population, "struggle... to meet their food needs".

The drought in Somalia has been partly caused by the El Nino storms which have affected eastern and southern Africa.

According to the BBC, parts of Puntland and the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland in northern Somalia are worst affected. All in all, about 4.7 million people, or almost 40% of the population, need some sort of humanitarian assistance. Many of those are people who have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in the country. Some 950,000 people "struggle every day to meet their food needs", the UN added.

As the drought is intensifying there "many more people risk relapsing into crisis," said the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia Peter de Clercq. He warned that 58,300 children are facing death "if they are not treated" and appealed for more funds so they can be helped quickly. Nearly 305,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished," he said.

In neighboring Ethiopia, more than 10 million people need food aid, after the rains failed. Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster in some areas of the country, due to drought.

Four years ago, intense drought and war sparked a famine killing more than 250,000 people in Somalia.

"We are deeply concerned ... with severe drought conditions intensifying in Puntland and Somaliland, many more people risk relapsing into crisis," the UN said. It called for $885 million in aid.

In addition, at least 10.2 million people need food aid in Ethiopia. The UN warned this number could double within months, leaving a fifth of the population to go hungry.