Somalia situation worse than thought

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The humanitarian situation in Somalia is deteriorating faster than expected, owing to an unusually harsh dry season, rising insecurity and soaring inflation rates, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has said.

The UN has revised upwards the number of those living in a state of humanitarian emergency from 315,000 to 425,000, and the number of newly displaced people from 705,000 to 745,000.

A statement from the UN Information Centre in Accra on Monday said the total number of those needing assistance in the country was estimated to be around 1.8 million, but that figure could increase to 2 million once current assessments were concluded.

It said Somalia had experienced an extremely dry season from January to March with high temperatures and unusually dry winds.

The statement said the dry conditions had also affected other countries in the region, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and parts of Kenya.

In addition, the country – like many others – has witnessed a dramatic increase in food prices over the past year.

“The prices of locally produced maize and sorghum have increased by 300 to 400 per cent, while imported foods such as rice and vegetable oil have increased by some 150 per cent. At the same time, the Somali shilling has depreciated by 65 per cent” the statement said.

It said along with the dry weather and rise in food prices, there had also been a diarrhoea outbreak in the Sanaag region, which had claimed seven lives among the 300 cases recorded since 10 March.

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