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SOMALIA / SOUTH SUDAN - FAMINE - SOMALIA DECLARES DROUGHT NATIONAL DISASTER / WFP DELIVERS AID TO DR

(11 Mar 2017) Binti Sayyid Hajji on March 1st 2017 entered a food distribution centre with her malnourished child in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
But she was not alone - thousands of others were seeking aid amid a devastating drought that is creating fears of a full-blown famine in the country.
Hajji told The Associated Press the drought had devastated her "farmland and properties".
Somalia's new president has declared a national disaster, with the drought threatening millions of people.
The statement from the office of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on February 28th said he has appealed for help from the international community and Somalia's diaspora of two million.
Combating the drought is a priority for Mohamed, who was elected in February to lead this fragile Horn of Africa nation also coping with attacks by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab.
The United Nations humanitarian office estimates that five million people in Somalia, or nearly half the country's population, need aid.
About 363,000 acutely malnourished children "need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished," says the US Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
Thousands have been streaming into Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies.
More than 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding centre recently.
Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, UN experts say.
The government earlier in February said the widespread hunger "makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks."
The UN humanitarian appeal for 2017 for Somalia is 864 million US dollars to provide assistance to 3.9 million people. But last month, the UN World Food Programme requested an additional 26 million US dollars plan to respond to the drought.
Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the UN secretary-general in February in a 4.4 billion US dollar aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.
***
The prolonged conflict in South Sudan, which started in December 2013, has seen many people lose their lives and many have fled from their homes.
There have been allegations of atrocities and human rights violations, including the systematic burning down of villages within the country, rape, and targeted killings.
And, as if it couldn't get any worse for South Sudan, famine was recently declared in parts of the country, in particular, in the former Unity State, in late February.
Aid organisations are now doing food drops to try and mitigate the pressures of the famine on some of the residents of Leer County.
People have fled their homes in the area and gone to hide in other counties and nearby swamps and for WFP, this is one of the challenges that they have to overcome while trying to get food aid to those who desperately need it.
Tens of thousands of people have died since the civil war broke out in December 2013, and the UN has warned that South Sudan is at risk of genocide.
Since fighting in the capital of Juba killed hundreds of people in July, the war has uprooted more than 3 million people.
***
Somalia's prolonged drought has caused widespread hunger, and the shortage of clean water has resulted in cholera.
The country recently announced its first death toll since declaring a national disaster, saying 110 people had died in a 48-hour period in a single region.
00:41:18

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