Many may already have 'starved to death' in Somalia: WHO
GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) - The World Health Organization said Wednesday that many were likely already starving to death in Somalia, warning that aid workers could not keep up with the surging needs.
The United Nations has warned that Somalia is on the brink of famine for the second time in just over a decade, with 200,000 people in danger of starvation in the drought-stricken country.
The UN children's agency on Tuesday said that around 730 children had already died in nutrition centres across Somalia from January to July, warning the true figure could be much higher.
The UN health agency chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus agreed the situation had likely already turned very deadly.
"Parts of Somalia are projected to fall into famine in the very near future unless there is an urgent scale-up in humanitarian assistance," he told reporters from the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
"Millions more people in other parts of the country are facing extreme hunger, and it is likely that many people have already starved to death."
Tedros said that a rapid scale-up in humanitarian aid since earlier this year had saved numerous lives.
But, he cautioned, "the resources that WHO and our partners have to respond to the crisis are outstripped by the explosion in needs."
"Somalia and its neighbours in the Greater Horn of Africa, as well as the countries of the Sahel region, need the world's help, and they need it now."
On Tuesday, the UN's undersecretary -general for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, said that to finance a humanitarian plan for Somalia would take another billion dollars "in addition to the about the 1.4 billion that we have in the budget at the moment."
Global agencies are supposed to only use the term "famine" according to a specific scale called the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.
According to it, famine exists in a certain area when 20 percent of households have extremely limited access to basic food, at least 30 percent of children suffer from acute malnutrition, and two people out of every 10,000 die each day due to starvation or a combination of malnutrition and disease.