UN, humanitarian agencies sound alarm over Somalia famine

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GENEVA, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Officials from various United Nations (UN) and humanitarian agencies on Tuesday sounded alarms for Somalia as the risk of famine increases in the east African country.

Wafaa Saeed Abdelatef, head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Somalia, told a press briefing here on Tuesday via video link that an estimated 1.5 million children, or almost half of all children under the age of five, in Somalia's 74 districts could be facing acute malnutrition.

She said that 730 children were reported to have died in food and nutrition centers across the country between January and July this year, but the numbers could be higher as many deaths go unreported.

She explained that the country is currently experiencing a drought, which is worse than the 2011 drought, in which 260,000 people had perished.

Speaking from Somalia's capital Mogadishu, Audrey Crawford, country director of the Danish Refugee Council in Somalia, said that this year alone, over one million people in Somalia have been internally displaced in search of food and water.

Alyona Synenko of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Tuesday's briefing that nearly half of the country's population, around 7.8 million people, have been suffering the devastating consequences of the drought, which lasted for four consecutive seasons.

The number of children under the age of five suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications admitted to the stabilization centers run by the ICRC has increased by almost 50 percent compared to the previous year, Synenko said. Enditem

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