United Nations relief efforts in Somalia

According to a United Nations February 2017 report, famine could soon be a reality in Somalia, largely due to consecutive and severe drought. There are already worrying similarities to the situation in 2011, when 260,000 died. In the worst affected areas, chiefly rural communities, crops have been wiped out and livestock died, while communities are being forced to sell their assets and borrow money and food to survive.

Some 6.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these, 3 million people cannot meet their daily food requirements and need urgent humanitarian assistance. UN humanitarian efforts — from such UN agencies as UN OCHA, World Food Program and UNICEF, as well as on-the-ground NGOs — are all in overdrive mode, providing a combination of food distribution, access and security as well as medical support and treatment.

Cholera has now taken hold in remote areas as water sources become scarce and that available has become expensive to buy. Villagers affected, mostly in the southern part of the country, have resorted to drinking stagnant and dirty water with the last count of cholera victims now past 7,500. With the rainy season due in April, the probability of full-out famine will become a stark reality if the season again brings less-than-needed rainfall.

Photography by Giles Clarke/Getty Images

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