Somalia's prime minister said Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region—the first death toll announced in a severe drought threatening millions of people across the country. Somalia's government declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The UN estimates that 5 million people in Somalia need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine, the AP reports. The death toll announced by Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone. Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the UN secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine.
Thousands have been streaming into Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently. The drought is the first crisis for Somalia's newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country fragile. Mohamed has appealed to the international community for help. About 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia "need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished," the US Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned. (Read more Somalia stories.)