260,000 Somalians dead due to famine

Between 2010 and 2012, more than a quarter of a million people died in the famine in Somalia — in part because the world was too slow to react, says the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini.

Half of the 258,000 Somalis who died in the famine were children younger than 5. In the worst-affected area, Lower Shabelle, close to one in five children younger than 5 died.

A report, jointly commissioned by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, concluded that the world did not do enough after warnings in 2010 that starvation loomed following severe drought.

The year from July 2010 to June 2011 was the driest in the eastern Horn of Africa in 60 years. This resulted in the death of livestock, small harvests and a big drop in demand for labor, cutting into household incomes. Southern Somalia also received less humanitarian assistance in 2010 and much of 2011 than it had in previous years, particularly 2008 to 2009, the report said.

And with reduced supplies available, the price of food staples soared, putting more pressure on poor households.

The result was what the researchers say was one of the worst famines in the past 25 years.

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