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U.N. Declares Famine In Two Regions Of Somalia; U.S. Pledges $28M In Additional Aid

Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Mark Bowden, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said the U.N. had officially declared a famine in the southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia, VOA News reports (7/20).

“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks. We still do not have all the resources for food, clean water, shelter and health services to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis in desperate need,” Bowden said, the Guardian notes (Tran, 7/20).

“The U.N. said across the country, 3.7 million people, nearly half of the Somali population, were now in danger, of whom 2.8 million people are in the south,” which is controlled by the militant group al-Shabab, Reuters writes (7/20). According to VOA News, UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, “has said it needs more security assurances from Somali insurgents in order to provide the massive level of aid needed in the country” (7/20).

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday said in a statement that the U.S. will provide $28 million in additional assistance for Somalia, adding to the more than $431 million the government already has provided to the Horn of Africa this year, the Associated Press reports (7/20). In the statement, Clinton called on the international community to “commit to taking additional steps to tackle both immediate assistance needs and strengthen capacity in the region to respond to future crises” (7/20).

On Tuesday, the relief agency Oxfam appealed to international donors to provide $800 million in aid for the region, the Associated Press reports, noting that the group “said U.N. humanitarian appeals for $1.87 billion for the region this year are only 45 percent funded, leaving a gap of over $1 billion.” According to Oxfam, Britain has pledged $145 million, the European Union has promised “around $8 million, with more expected in the coming days, Spain pledged nearly $10 million and Germany around $8.5 million,” the news agency writes (7/19). The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on Wednesday appealed for $120 million in aid for the Horn of Africa, VOA News reports (7/20).

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