FAO, Famine Early Warning Systems Network Release Report Estimating Death Toll Of Recent Somali Famine
“More than a quarter of a million people are estimated to have died during the recent famine and food crisis in Somalia, and more than half were children under five, making it the worst famine in the past 25 years, according to figures [.pdf] published on Thursday,” The Guardian reports (Ford, 5/2). “Some 133,000 of the Somalis who perished — about half — were children under five, according to FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), which carried out the study along with the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET),” the U.N. News Centre writes (5/2). “The toll is much higher than was feared at the time of the 2010-2012 food crisis in the troubled Horn of Africa country and also exceeds the 220,000 who starved to death in a 1992 famine, according to the findings,” Al Jazeera notes (5/2). “That’s 133,000 under-five child deaths out of an estimated 6.5 million people in south-central Somalia. That compares to 65,000 under-five deaths that occurred in all industrial countries in the world combined during the same period, a population of 990 million, said Chris Hillbruner, a senior food security adviser at FEWS NET,” the Associated Press writes.
“The two agencies had warned the world as early as fall 2010 that failed rains in Somalia meant a hunger crisis was approaching,” according to the AP. But Hillbruner said, “I think the international community has become used to levels of malnutrition and food insecurity in southern Somalia that in other parts of the world would be considered unacceptable,” the AP notes. “In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the hardest-hit famine regions were controlled by the extremist Islamist group al-Shabab,” the news agency writes, adding, “Ken Menkaus, a Somalia expert at Davidson College, said some elements of al-Shabab bear major responsibility for famine deaths, but that other factors contributed as well, including a corrupt Somali central government and general insecurity that made travel in Somalia dangerous.” The AP notes “Somalia has made great progress since the famine ended in February 2012” (Straziuso/Lee, 5/2).