The United Nations appealed to donors on Monday for 60 million dollars in aid to help avert famine and a humanitarian disaster in Somalia.
“If 50,000 acutely malnourished children are not assisted, they are at the door of death,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, said. “We cannot wait for the crisis to be declared to get funds and response.”
Lazzarini said the same warning signs of drought and malnutrition were present as was the case before the 2011 famine, which killed more than 250,000 people as funds were slow to arrive. Half of them died before a famine was officially declared.
Somalia’s civil war has lasted more than two decades and displaced millions of people. The fledgling government, with help from African Union troops, is battling al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants.
A new government offensive has weakened al-Shabaab. But Lazzarini said the group was enacting a policy of “encirclement,” cutting off roads into government-controlled towns to humanitarian agencies and causing food prices to soar.
The aid would be used to treat malnourished children, transport food supplies, provide clean water to drought-hit areas and vaccinate against disease outbreaks.