U.N. Officials Highlight Concern About Humanitarian Situation In East Africa

“U.N. officials sounded the alarm Tuesday about a deepening crisis in East Africa, saying they are struggling to cope with the number of people on the move in the region because of the severe drought and continued fighting in Somalia,” the Associated Press reports. “World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the drought has left millions hungry, farmers at risk of losing their livelihoods and the lives of hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” the AP writes (7/12).

“Tens of thousands of Somalis” affected by the drought “are making the perilous journey over parched earth to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, regions that also have been hit hard by drought,” the AP/Washington Post reports. On Monday, Ethiopia’s government said 4.5 million people within its borders need food aid, a 40 percent increase over last year, according to the news agency. Jason Frasier, mission director of USAID in Ethiopia, “suggested that Ethiopia might even be undercounting those who need help,” the news agency writes (7/11).

“The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) estimates that northeast Kenya, southeast Ethiopia and parts of Somalia – mainly in the center and south – will be in an ’emergency’ phase of food insecurity, the stage before ‘catastrophe or famine,'” Reuters reports (Maasho, 7/11).

“Civil society groups are rallying together to help the vulnerable as the drought ravaging Somalia spreads to hitherto unaffected areas, amid concerns that hunger-related deaths are dramatically increasing,” IRIN writes (7/11). A second IRIN story looks at how the drought is affecting families in Ethiopia’s Oromiya and Somali regional states, where almost three-quarters of the people requiring humanitarian aid live (7/12).

The Guardian has published a Q&A article on the drought, examining whether the situation can be classified as “famine,” some possible long-term solutions, and other issues (Tran, 7/12).

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