According to a new report, around 260,000 people died in the African state of Somalia during the 2010-2012 famine, with almost half of the victims being children.
The new report, put together by the UN and US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), states that the 2010-2012 famine was even worse than the 1992 famine, which claimed the lives of some 220,000 people. According to the FEWS Net report, almost 260,000 people died in Somalia during the two years that the famine had struck, topping the list of major famines in Africa over nearly the past 25 years. The report details that around half of the victims of the famine were children, under the age of five, showing that in such major hunger crises, children are often the most vulnerable.
The Somalia famine was officially declared by the United Nations in July of 2011, declared in the regions of Southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle. Both areas were at the time in the control of al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab, although the militant group denied that there was any food crisis in the region and prohibited western journalists from entering the area. Regardless of the group’s denials, the famine soon spread to other areas such as Middle Shabelle, Afgoye as well as at relief camps near the country’s capital, Mogadishu. During the two-year period, almost 4.6 percent of Somalia’s total population died in central and southern Somalia, in addition to 10 percent of its children. The high numbers of infant deaths was seen in almost all the affected areas, with 18 percent of the children under five dying in Lower Shabelle, while 17 percent in Mogadishu.
Speaking about the report, the deputy head of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Somalia, Rudi Van Aaken, said, "I think the main lesson learned is that the humanitarian community should be ready to take early action - respond early on."
"Responding only when the famine is declared is very very ineffective. Actually about half of the casualties were there before the famine was already declared, “ while Ben Foot, of Save The Children, added, “While conditions in Somalia have improved in recent months, the country still has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition and infant mortality in the world."
The famine in the country was exacerbated by the 2011 drought that affected close to 13 million people across the Horn of Africa.