Somalia faces fresh humanitarian crisis

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NAIROBI - War-torn Somalia faces a fresh humanitarian crisis due to conflict, poor rains and a likely late harvest, aid group Save the Children warned Thursday, nearly a year on since famine was declared.
Tens of thousands of people are believed to have died last year after extreme drought and war pushed several areas of southern Somalia into famine last July.
Although the famine was declared over in February, severe emergency conditions remain in many areas.
"A combination of displacement, poor rains and a predicted late harvest threatens to reverse Somalia's fragile recovery from the disaster," said Sonia Zambakides, from Save the Children's Somalia programme.
"The underlying causes such as conflict, low rainfall and a lack of family income are still putting many Somali children at great risk," the aid group added in an appeal for funds to support those affected.
The United Nations has warned that parts of southern Somalia -- the main battleground between African Union troops and Ethiopian forces against Islamist Shebab fighters -- are "likely to deteriorate to emergency levels."
At particular risk are some 1.36 million Somalis already displaced by drought and war.
The US-backed Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has warned that rains critical to the harvest "started late and were poorly distributed," although a return to famine is "not expected" according to current data.
Its latest report notes that several southern Somali areas face "increasing food deficits" that will "occur in the context of already high levels of acute malnutrition."
The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) warns that the food situation across Somalia "is likely to remain unchanged since January 2012" -- a period when three areas remained in famine conditions.