Today in Famine

As if the drought, famine, measles outbreak and general lawlessness was not problem enough, the World Health Organization is warning of a cholera epidemic in Somalia.

WHO public health adviser Dr. Michel Yao told reporters in Geneva Friday that the number of cases has risen sharply this year, with 60 percent of 30 random lab samples taken from 4,272 people in the capital Mogadishu suffering acute watery diarrhea testing positive.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said last week that diarrhea is on the rise in Somalia, with 77 percent of cases reported in Mogadishu so far afflicting children younger than 5-years old.

Meanwhile, the USA announced $17 million more in emergency relief for the Horn of Africa crisis. That means that out of an estimated US$2.5 billion in humanitarian requirements for Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, $1.33 billion has been committed–still well short of fully funding this crisis response.

Here’s what that means by the numbers, from OCHA’s most recent situation update, released yesterday:

— In Somalia 3.7 million people are in crisis, 3.2 million people need immediate, life-saving assistance and 2.8 million or 80 per cent are in the south. Five areas of Somalia are officially in a state of famine, and the rest of  southern Somalia could follow within the next four to six weeks.

— Somali refugees continue to flood into Kenya, outpacing the ability to process them for formal registration.  The registered population of the Dadaab camps is now over 400,000, with more than 30,000 awaiting  processing by the Government of Kenya. New arrivals receive food, health and nutrition services, as well as  non-food items and access to clean water and sanitation facilities.

— In Ethiopia, a fourth refugee camp in the Dollo Ado region, at Hilaweyn, officially opened on 5 August, with the first transfers of refugees from the overcrowded transit centre, where some 15,000 Somalis are  currently staying.  There are over 118,271 refugees from Somalia in the Dollo Ado area. The measles  outbreak in the refugee camps is being met with a campaign to vaccinate children and raise awareness on  the symptoms of measles, but supplies of vaccine are low. Food aid allocations countrywide for the next  round of distributions will be short on CSB and pulses, which will mean an incomplete dietary ration for at  least 2 million people.

— According to Government, UN and NGO sources, the most affected areas in Djibouti are the regions of  Obock, Tadjoura and Alisabih. There is a serious shortage of water in the Northern regions of Obock and  Tadjourah. Many of the wells are dry and people are resorting to use contaminated water. Increasing levels  of malnutrition among children under age 5 are reported.


Somalia Map