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UN relief chief visits 'hot spots' across Yemen, Somalia and Kenya

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- Stephen O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, will travel from Oslo to Yemen, Somalia and Kenya between Feb. 26 and March 5 to meet people most affected by humanitarian crises, a UN spokesman said here Friday.

"In all three countries, Mr. O’Brien will meet people most affected by humanitarian crises, which are caused chiefly by conflict and drought," Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

"Millions of people in Yemen and Somalia face the very real risk of famine over the coming six months if aid efforts are not rapidly scaled up," the spokesman said.

In Yemen, more than SEVEN million people are severely food insecure and 460,000 children are suffering severe acute malnutrition, while in Somalia nearly 3 million people urgently need food assistance, he said.

Kenya declared a drought emergency on Feb. 10, with at least 23 counties affected, he said, adding that the number of food insecure people in Kenya has more than doubled to 2.7 million in the past six months.

O’Brien will meet with stakeholders on the humanitarian crises in all three countries, he added.


Aid agency says imminent famine threatens children survival in Somalia

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- An international aid agency warned Friday a looming famine in Somalia is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families who cannot access food.

World Vision Somalia said most pastoralists who have lost their livestock have extremely low capacity to cope, and so do millions of internally displaced people (IDPs).

"We have a very short time left to prevent children from starving to death and concerns are growing. If we are going to wait for the rains it will be too late," Simon Nyabwengi, National Director, World Vision International-Somalia Programme warned in a statement.

"With 71,000 children already severely malnourished, they are likely to die if they don’t get urgent help. We will not want to stand on graves of children that could have been saved," Nyabwengi added.

The charity said successive failed rains across Somalia, together with falling incomes, rising food prices and continuing problems with access as a result of conflict and insecurity, have exhausted the coping strategies of vulnerable families.

The number of people facing food insecurity has risen dramatically, and is projected to reach and surpass 6 million between now and June.

World Vision is seeking 18.5 million U.S. dollars to provide life-saving assistance to 530,000 drought affected people in Puntland, Somaliland, South West State and Jubaland between January and December 2017.

The Horn of Africa nation is severely affected given the limited recovery from the 2011 famine, a situation that is exacerbated by protracted conflict, widespread poverty and inadequate access to basic services.

"These (71,000) children and their families need immediate life-saving assistance and access to food, water, medicine and other basic services essential for their survival as time is running out fast.

"A window of early action has been missed, for history not to repeat action cannot be delayed any longer," Nyabwengi said.

World Vision is carrying out water trucking in Jariban in Puntland enabling access to safe and clean water for drinking, household use and for livestock consumption.

The charity also has a resilience programme to help women start up village savings and loans associations to build savings and provide alternative livelihoods by teaching them how to save small money on a regular basis for future use.

"We have been able to keep 73,000 children alive by providing them with nutritional supplements, we have trucked water to 10,000 people," Nyabwengi said.

However, the resources available for this intervention are inadequate to meet the needs of increasing movement of people into these areas in search of pasture and water.


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