Famine Will Spread In Somalia Unless 'Massive' Response Mounted, U.N. Says

The drought and hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa is getting worse, and unless there is “a massive increase in the response, the famine will spread to five or six more regions” in Somalia, Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told reporters on Monday, Reuters reports. Amos said the U.N. needs an additional $1.4 billion to help those in need and that the African Union would soon hold a funding conference, the news agency notes (Charbonneau, 8/1).

“The response to the disaster has been difficult and slow owing to security concerns and restrictions placed on aid agencies by the militia group al-Shabab, who banned some organizations from working in their areas,” according to the Guardian (Rice, 8/1). The New York Times reports that al-Shabab “is blocking starving people from fleeing the country and setting up a cantonment camp where it is imprisoning displaced people who were trying to escape Shabab territory” (Gettleman/Ibrahim, 8/1).

The Christian Science Monitor notes “Ethiopia’s government is enacting a resettlement program that it hopes will be a long-lasting solution to a longstanding burden,” but which some advocates “say … will be coercive and rob people of their ancestral lands” (Davison, 8/1).

A spokesperson for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said on Tuesday that “Uganda may be the next country hit with these same sort of alarming malnutrition and drought conditions,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/2).

The Guardian’s “Data Blog” presents figures on aid funding for the crisis, which will be updated weekly (8/1). The New York Times examines how a lack of media coverage of the situation could be contributing to a lack of donations from the public (Strom, 8/1).