DEC member agencies are continuing to scale up their work in south and central Somalia in response to what the UN has now recognised as the first famine in the region since south Sudan in 1998. 
 
The UN declared a famine this morning in the regions of Bakool and Lower Shabelle with other areas expected to follow as more information becomes available and the situation continues to deteriorate. 
 
The UN said malnutrition (GAM) has reached 50% in some areas.  A level of 15% is considered an emergency, with 30% or more being one of the indicators of famine.  In addition, more than six children under five per 10,000 are dying each day.
 
Ten of the 14 agencies that make up the DEC are working in Somalia directly or through partners, including in some cases in the south or centre of the country.
 
DEC member agencies and their partners operate under strict rules of humanitarian impartiality and independence to ensure continued safe access to as many people in need of help as possible but the situation in Somalia is exceptionally challenging. 
 
Disasters Emergency Committee Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:
 
“Access to south and central Somalia has long been very difficult but was never impossible.  Following an announcement that restrictions in the area would be eased our member agencies have been seeking to build on their existing work to reach more of those worst affected by the famine.  
 
“Today’s announcement makes clear quite how critical those efforts will be if we are to avoid deaths on a massive scale.  If we can increase the number of people we are reaching at the epicentre of this catastrophe we can still save many lives.”
 
The humanitarian crisis in Somalia has been caused by a combination of factors including severe drought, rising food and fuel prices, chronic poverty and conflict.  
 
The United Nations has called for aid agencies to increase their work in Somalia to ensure help gets to those who need it. This followed last week’s announcement by one party to the conflict that it easing access to foreign agencies working in the areas it controls.
 
Activities of DEC members and their partners in Somalia include:
 

  • CARE is providing assistance with food, water, wells and cash to the most vulnerable households in Puntland and Somaliland.
  • Concern Worldwide is working in south and central Somalia providing food vouchers, water, household items and healthcare for malnourished children and mothers.
  • British Red Cross’ partner in Somali is providing healthcare in Puntland and Somaliland, food for the most vulnerable and wells.  It has also distributed seeds and tools in south and central Somalia ahead of hoped for rains.
  • Merlin is providing emergency healthcare and food in central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland.
  • Save the Children is providing supplementary feeding for vulnerable children and cash to vulnerable households in Somaliland and Puntland.
  • Islamic Relief is providing food, water, sanitation and healthcare in Mogadishu, Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia.