10 things you need to know about the looming famine in Somalia


The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating in Somalia, where two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall have led to massive drought. Hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes, walking long distances to find food, water and other essentials. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that Somalia is at risk of famine, putting millions of lives at stake.

Here are 10 facts you need to know about the crisis.

  1. Some 6.2 million people—half of the country’s population—need humanitarian assistance to survive. This is a staggering increase from the 5 million people who were in need just six months ago.
  2. As clean water becomes scarcer and more expensive, people are resorting to unsafe water sources, which is leading to outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
  3. An estimated 2.9 million people urgently need food assistance.
  4. Children are suffering the most in this crisis. Almost 1 million children will be acutely malnourished this year, including 185,000 who could die soon if they do not receive urgent medical treatment.
  5. The drought has forced many people to leave their homes. The majority of those displaced are women and children, as the men often stay behind to look after the family homes and livestock. Separated from their male family members, women and girls are more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.
  6. We have been here before. In 2011, a famine in Somalia killed over a quarter of a million people, partly because the international community was too slow to respond.
  7. More than 300 local and international partners are on the ground and ready to respond. Over recent months, they have been scaling up and adjusting their response efforts, but they urgently need more support in order to avert a further deterioration of the crisis.
  8. Humanitarian access remains a huge issue in Somalia due to violence and insecurity. Some regions remain accessible only by air, making it difficult for humanitarian partners to reach people in need.
  9. A total of US$825 million is urgently needed to avoid a repeat of the 2011 famine. So far, only $185 million has been received.
  10. We must act now to prevent famine in Somalia.


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