UN agencies warn millions of Somalis at risk of famine

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UN agencies warn millions of Somalis at risk of famine

YASUYOSHI CHIBA AFP UN agencies are warning that millions of Somalis are at risk of famine as a result of a prolonged drought, a UN spokesman said Tuesday.

According to Stephane Dujarric, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the impact of the drought continues to destroy lives and livelihoods, and growing needs outpace available resources for humanitarian assistance.

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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Children's Fund, and the World Food Programme are calling for urgent funding to scale up assistance, said a spokesman for the Food and Agriculture Organization.

The appeal comes after a report found that 6 million Somalis, or nearly 40 percent of the population, are facing extreme food insecurity. Famine conditions are likely to be found in six areas of the country. He said that this is a two-fold increase in the number of people facing extreme levels of acute food insecurity due to the drought and other shocks since the beginning of the year.

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Guterres made a phone call with Somali President Mohamed Farmajo on Monday. Guterres expressed his solidarity with Somalia in the face of increased Al-Shabab attacks and the drought the country is facing.

The UN chief also expressed his support for the new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia and the hope that Somalia would be able to ensure its own security as soon as possible. Guterres hopes that there will be a swift conclusion to the electoral process and that any outstanding issues must be addressed through dialogue.