Last updated at 10:53 AM on 21st July 2011
- UN officially declares state of famine in Somalia
- 3.7 million people face starvation as state of famine declared in two areas
- UN aid agencies say $300 million needed in next two months to prevent massive loss of life
- U.S. pledges further $28 million in aid as thousands flee across borders to refugee camps
- Worst drought in 60 years sees desperate situation in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritrea
- 90 per cent of livestock killed in some areas of the country
- Islamist groups restrict aid agency access to worst-hit areas
- Desperate HIV patients in Swaziland forced to eat cow dung to ensure medicine is not rejected
As the United Nations declared a famine in two areas of southern Somalia, Oxfam accused France, Italy and Denmark of failing to give enough money.
But the charity praised individual British donors, who gave £4million in a 24-hour period ending last night, adding to £20million already given.
‘Britain is playing its part, with help for more than two million people across the Horn of Africa. Others must do the same.
‘In Somalia, men, women and children are dying of starvation. The fact that a famine has been declared shows just how grave the situation has become.’
The country is suffering its first famine in 19 years and one in three children have malnutrition. Tens of thousands of desperate families are on the move seeking help after the drought devastated their livestock and water supplies.
More than 170,000 are housed in camps in neighbouring Kenya. Some regions have had the worst drought in 60 years.
UK donations to the special emergency appeal set up by the Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation for 14 major charities, yesterday topped £24million.
Another £90million has been pledged by the Government to deal with what David Cameron has called ‘the most catastrophic situation for a generation’.
Sonia Zambakides, of Save the Children, said some mothers had walked for up to six days without food to find help.
‘I was talking to mothers with children, the children looked maybe nine months to one year old,’ she said. ‘The mothers were telling me the children were three and four years old, so they were absolutely tiny.’
Oxfam says £700million is needed to stave off a humanitarian disaster in a drought-hit region that straddles Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Only £140million has been provided so far.
DECLARATION OF FAMINE
The UN uses the five-stage Phase Classification.
Phase four - a Humanitarian Emergency - incorporates the above statistics, as well as there being less than 7.5 litres of water per person per day.
Phase five - a Humanitarian Catastrophe - is where more than 30 per cent have acute malnutrition, all livestock is dead and there is less than 4 litres of water per day.
In parts of Somalia, six people are dying every day and more than half of children are acutely malnourished.
‘The worst affected areas have endured decades of marginalisation and economic under-development. If more action had been taken earlier we would not now be at the stage where so many people are facing starvation.’
Mark Bowden, UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said: ‘If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks.
‘Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas.’
Years of drought and conflict has made it extremely difficult for agencies to operate and access communities in the south of Somalia.
The region is controlled by al Shabaab Islamist insurgents, affiliated to Al Qaeda, who are fighting the Western-backed government.