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UN declares Somali famine over for now

  • An exceptional harvest after good rains and food deliveries by aid agencies have ended famine in Somalia for now but food stocks could run out again in May, the United Nations said on Friday.
  • The famine, which was declared in July, killed tens of thousands in south and central Somalia, much of which is controlled by Islamist militants. More than 2.3 million Somalis, almost a third of the population, are still in need of aid. 
Crisis not over 
  • Bowden called al Shabaab's expulsion of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from its territories a "critical concern". 
  • The militants this week banned the agency, one of few international aid groups delivering food aid to areas under rebel control, accusing it of distributing out-of-date food. 
  • Al Shabaab denied a hunger crisis persisted, accused relief groups of misleading Somalis and said it would not lift a ban imposed on more than a dozen aid agencies. 
  • The UN said the latest harvest in Somalia was double the average of the past 17 years, and this had lowered food prices, though mortality rates in southern Somalia were still among the highest in the world. 
  • In many parts of the south, acute malnutrition rates remain about 20 percent and access to treatment is severely restricted. 
  • The UN said the current harvest offered respite but would provide just 10 to 20 percent of this year's food needs. It warned food stocks could run out in May, ahead of the main August harvest. 
  • "We have less than 100 days to avoid another famine," said Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. 
  • "The crisis is not over. It can only be resolved with a combination of rains and continued, coordinated, long-term actions that build up the resilience of the population and link relief with development."


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