The ongoing hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa is growing in scale from one day to the next.
“The protracted conflict in Somalia is the main reason for the crisis. It has made the local communities extremely vulnerable, even in the face of natural and recurring climate variations,” commented Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
According to the UN, 12.4 million people are now without food. In southern Somalia alone, over 400 000 children are acutely undernourished. Norway is now providing an additional NOK 300 million to help the victims of the crisis in and around Somalia. The funds are being channelled through the UN, the International Red Cross and other organisations with a presence in the worst affected areas.
“The top priority now is to save lives. At the same time, we must make sure that no more people are forced to flee from their homes. More and more parts of Somalia are now affected by the famine. The situation could become worse still during the autumn. It is vital to help those who are most severely affected where they are,” commented Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.
These funds are also intended to make those affected more resilient to new crises. With this in view, Norway is therefore supporting NGOs working in the worst hit areas. Norway has already provided NOK 320 million earlier this year.
“The drought was expected. Norway therefore gave significant funding at an early stage to the UN, the International Red Cross and NGOs with a view to preventing the grave situation we are now witnessing. It is primarily the hostilities in southern Somalia and the lack of access to those in need that have made it difficult to provide assistance. We are seeing the consequences of this now,” said Mr Støre.
The crisis is expected to continue into the first quarter of 2012, even if there is sufficient rain in the next rainy season.
“The crisis can be further exacerbated if the farmers are unable to sow their crops before October, or if the rainy season fails once again. Even if there is rain, it could cause problems for a population that is now extremely vulnerable to water-borne diseases,” Mr Solheim said.
Hunger crisis in Africa: Questions and answers.
Serious concern about situation in the Horn of Africa. Erik Solheim visited the victims of the crisis three weeks ago. Pictures from his visit are available for free editorial use on the Ministry’s Flickr page.