The UN has issued a famine alert for parts of Somalia between October and December this year as drought worsens and global food prices hover near record highs.
This was disclosed by UN humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths during a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.
Mr Griffiths stated that he had concrete indications that famine would occur by autumn in parts of south central Somalia.
The worst drought in more than 40 years has destroyed livestock and crops in Somalia and its neighbors in the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and Kenya.
In Somalia alone, the number of people facing crisis hunger levels is 7.8 million, or around half the population, while around one million people have fled their homes in a desperate search for food and water, UN agencies say.
Humanitarian organisations have been raising the alarm about the situation’s deterioration for months; last month, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) reported that 22 million more people in the region were at risk of starvation.
The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, and experts say the region is on track for a fifth consecutive failed rainy season.
Griffiths said the current “situations and trends” resembled those of 2010 and 2011, but that it was “worse” now, due to four failed rainy seasons and decades of conflicts.
In 2011, the country experienced a famine that claimed more than a quarter of a million lives, most of them children.