Famine and disease threaten millions in drought hit Horn of Africa

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 21 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4696
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

The humanitarian crisis in the drought hit Horn of Africa deepened on 20 July when the UN declared that famine is now affecting two regions of Southern Somalia and has already killed tens of thousands of people in recent months.

The agency warned that the situation could worsen unless urgent action is taken, putting at risk 3.7 million people in the country, including 640 000 malnourished children out of 2.8 million people in urgent need of aid. Famine is declared if at least 20% of households face extreme food shortages, global acute malnutrition rates exceed 30%, and crude death rates exceed two per 10 000 per day. The areas affected in Southern Somalia are southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

Dermot Carty, deputy director for emergency programmes at Unicef, told reporters: “This famine is a children’s famine: children are the most vulnerable to this crisis.” There are already 310 000 children with severe acute malnutrition (when a …

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