UN food agency rings alarm bell over war-torn Somalia

Asad Cabdullahi MataanBy Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

Paris – The United Nations food agency, the FAO, on Monday issued a stark warning over food security in war-torn Somalia, launching an urgent appeal for $18 million to stop hunger spreading.

Last year’s harvest was already poor and prices are rising as food stocks from 2013 are being rapidly depleted, the FAO warned in a statement.

The situation has been exacerbated by late rains, erratic weather and the conflict wracking the impoverished African country, the FAO said.

The agency estimated there were 860,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in Somalia, including 200,000 malnourished children under the age of five.

It said it was “urgently seeking” $18 million (13 million euros) to scale up what it called “rapid interventions” to prevent the food security situation getting even worse.

“Conditions are expected to improve slightly in August and September when the harvest is ready for consumption, but the positive impact is likely to be moderate given the unfavourable prospects of the current season,” the FAO judged.

Prices for staples such as maize and sorghum have risen by as much as 60 and 80 percent compared to April last year.

“The people of Somalia cannot simply wait for the results of the next harvest. They need urgent help,” said Luca Alinovi, FAO officer for Somalia and Kenya.