Millions hungry as drought grips Somalia

A woman walks through a camp of people displaced from their homes elsewhere in Somalia by the drought. (AP/File)
Updated 06 May 2019

Millions hungry as drought grips Somalia

  • Somalia is enduring its third-driest long rains season since 1981
  • Close to a million children will need treatment for malnutrition in 2019

NAIROBI: Drought has left nearly two million Somalis in desperate need of food, a humanitarian agency warned Monday, as poor rainfall pushes communities to the brink across East Africa.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said hundreds of thousands of children were already suffering malnutrition in Somalia and millions had abandoned their homes in search of food in the arid, conflict-torn nation.

“The humanitarian situation has deteriorated at an alarming rate as a result of the drought,” Victor Moses, the council’s country director in Somalia, said in a statement.

The failure of the so-called long rains that usually sweep East Africa between March and May has caused widespread crop failures and heaped immense pressure on livestock-dependent communities in the greater region.

Somalia is enduring its third-driest long rains season since 1981.

The UN estimates that 1.7 million people are going hungry, with that figure expected to grow by another half a million come July.

Last week, the UN said 44,000 Somalis had left their homes in rural areas for urban centers just this year — joining the estimated 2.6 million internally-displaced people across the country.

Close to a million children will need treatment for malnutrition in 2019.

“The deterioration has come much earlier than seen over the last decades and before affected communities could recover from the most recent drought,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

But the hunger crisis could extend well beyond Somalia, with the entire Horn of Africa region at risk from drought and extreme weather exacerbated by climate change.

Almost 80 percent of the population in the Horn depend on farming for a living, said the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network said in April that if rains did not materialize in May “the season will have failed and the impact on food security outcomes would be more severe than currently anticipated.”

The US-funded network warned more than 42 million people in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and nearby Yemen were currently facing crisis levels of food insecurity.

In Kenya, considered the most dynamic economy in the region, the World Bank in April cited the impact of drought when trimming its growth forecast for the country in 2019.


COVID-19 infection rates among UAE citizens increased by 30%

Updated 27 min 50 sec ago

COVID-19 infection rates among UAE citizens increased by 30%

  • The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is 61,845 and 354 deaths
  • Meanwhile, the UAE celebrated reaching 5000 vaccinated volunteers in its phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine

DUBAI: The UAE’s Minister of Health and Prevention announced a 30 percent rise in new COVID-19 cases among citizens on Thursday and warned of the dangers of gatherings that do not follow measures.

The minister called for those in the UAE to exercise caution and care in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

The official spokesman for the UAE Government, Omar Al-Hammadi, said that the total number of recorded cases in the UAE is 61,845 and 354 deaths, while the current number of patients receiving treatment has reached 5,752.

Meanwhile, the UAE celebrated reaching 5000 vaccinated volunteers in its phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine for COVID-19, state news agency WAM reported.

The trials began in Abu Dhabi last month after China’s Sinopharm CNBG, the world’s sixth-largest vaccine manufacturer, developed an inactivated vaccine that successfully completed phase I and II of testing.

Phase I and Phase II trials, which were conducted in China, resulted in 100 percent of the volunteers generating antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, after two doses in 28 days.

Over 80 nationalities in the UAE have volunteered to participate in the trails, according to WAM.

“This milestone marks a significant achievement for the ongoing clinical trials and is testament to the global commitment to humanity of everyone who calls the UAE home,” Chairperson of the National COVID-19 Clinical Management Committee, Nawal Ahmed Alkaabi, said.

"We reached the 5000 vaccinations faster than anticipated and believe that our trials of the inactivated vaccine are moving faster than comparable trials processes anywhere in the world,” he added.

Alkaabi said that the UAE aims to vaccinate 15,000 volunteers.

The thousands of volunteers who have been vaccinated come from a diverse background and are of all ages between 18 and 60.