Somalia Famine Could Kill 750K: UN

12M in the region are in need of food aid
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2011 1:00 PM CDT
Somali's wait for food aid to be handed out from the UNHCR in Mogadishu , Wednesday. Aug. 31, 2011.   (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

(Newser) – The news out of Somalia continues to grow more dismal: Today the UN announced that the drought coursing through East Africa is expected to worsen, and could claim as many as 750,000 lives in Somalia. The UN declared the Bay region a famine zone, making it the sixth area with that designation. "The rate of malnutrition [among children] in Bay region is 58%. This is a record rate of acute malnutrition," said a UN adviser. The BBC notes that famine is generally declared when the rate gets about half that high.

Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda have also been hit by the drought: Some 12 million need food aid in the entire region, 4 million in Somalia alone. But aid is especially tough to deliver to Somalia, much of whose famine zone is controlled by the Islamist al-Shabab, which has placed restrictions on aid workers. "The grim reality of Somalia today is we are not able to get to south and central Somalia, which we consider to be the epicenter of the crisis," says one charity head.

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