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The UN declares end of famine in Somalia – reaction of the EU humanitarian commissioner

A woman receiving food © EU
03/02/2012  - 

The easing of famine in Somalia is an important achievement after months of suffering. The improvement is due to significant humanitarian assistance coupled with a favourable recent rainy season and good harvest.

But the humanitarian situation remains extremely fragile – nearly a third of the Somali population (2.34 million people) still need emergency support. The regions previously affected by famine are now in a humanitarian emergency phase, which is defined as a situation of ‘severe lack of food access with excess mortality, very high and increasing malnutrition, and irreversible livelihoods asset stripping’.

It is important that the humanitarian community can continue to deliver assistance to the worst-affected regions of south-central Somalia in order to prevent vulnerable households from falling back into famine. Recurrent droughts in the Horn of Africa mean that hunger remains a critical threat. It is exacerbated by the current conflict and the ban on most humanitarian organisations, including those which provide life-saving food assistance. In this context, a quick return to famine is not excluded.

The Commission's 2012 humanitarian strategy for Somalia emphasises life-saving food assistance, nutrition, health, and shelter, as well as support for the recovery and resilience of the affected population.