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Great Horn of Africa : 129,000 people at risk of starvation (WHO)

Geneva – Friday 10 March 2023

Some 129,000 people have reached the maximum level of food insecurity in the Great Horn of Africa region, which has been plagued by a terrible drought for several years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.

“When I talk about the Great Horn of Africa, I am referring to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda,” explained a WHO official in the region, Liesbeth Aelbrecht, in a video conference from Nairobi.

In this region, she said, “we are seeing an upsurge in epidemics and the highest number of malnourished children in years, with millions of people affected, all in the context of a deteriorating food insecurity outlook.

According to WHO, 48 million people are facing critical levels of food insecurity in the region.

Of these 48 million people, 6 million are food insecure at the “emergency” level (Phase 4 of the Integrated Phase Classification, IPC) and 129,000 at the “disaster” level (Phase 5), the highest level.

Of these 129,000, 33,000 are in South Sudan and 96,000 in Somalia, according to Aelbrecht.

People in Phase 5 situations are “staring death in the face,” WHO said.

According to the Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) of Igad, a grouping of East African countries, current conditions are worse than before the 2011 drought, which led to famine and the deaths of thousands.

The region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, with crises becoming more frequent and intense.

Five consecutive failed rainy seasons have so far resulted in the death of millions of livestock, the destruction of crops, and the displacement of millions of people to find food and water elsewhere.

Measles, dengue fever, cholera, malaria… this food insecurity is at the origin of a multiplication of epidemics, according to the WHO which needs 178 million dollars to support the populations of the region this year.

“The Greater Horn of Africa has never seen such a high number of epidemics in this century,” Aelbrecht said, pointing to the link between the increased frequency of epidemics and climate change.

“With climate change being a reality, these shocks are going to become more and more recurrent, and what we need is continued large-scale humanitarian assistance with longer-term investments to strengthen existing surveillance” of diseases to stop them at the first sign, she said.

Jill Biden calls for more aid to the Horn of Africa

Published February 28 -U.S. First Lady Jill Biden called on wealthy nations to give more to countries in the Horn of Africa, which is experiencing its worst drought in four decades, during a visit Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023 to affected communities in Kenya.

The United States has funded most of the aid to deal with the climate disaster, which has led to the death of millions of livestock and destroyed crops.

“We can’t be alone. We need other countries to join us in this global effort to help people in the region,” Biden said at an aid distribution point in Kajiado, south of Nairobi.

“Unfortunately, you know there’s the war in Ukraine. There’s the earthquake in Turkey. I mean, there are a lot of competing interests, but obviously here…people are starving,” she stressed.

First lady Joe Biden, who had previously visited Namibia, heard from parents struggling to feed their children and communities unable to get water.

Drought was one of the main themes of Biden’s visit to Africa, along with food security and agriculture.

The Horn of Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, with crises becoming more frequent and intense.

According to the Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC) of Igad, a grouping of East African countries, current conditions are worse than before the 2011 drought, which led to famine and the death of thousands.

According to Igad and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 23 million people are already “acutely food insecure” in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

 

Biden’s visit to Namibia and then to Kenya is a follow-up to the U.S.-Africa Summit held in Washington in late 2022.

In Namibia, Biden said the United States is committed to helping African nations have a stronger voice at the United Nations and other bodies.

 

Sources : AFP

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