Somalia faces worst food crisis in 18 years: UN | world | Hindustan Times
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Somalia faces worst food crisis in 18 years: UN

Drought, conflict and displacement are causing the worst humanitarian crisis in war-torn Somalia in 18 years, the UN food agency warned on Monday.

world Updated: Sep 22, 2009 11:02 IST

Drought, conflict and displacement are causing the worst humanitarian crisis in war-torn Somalia in 18 years, the UN food agency warned on Monday.

Some 3.6 million people, about half the Somali population, need emergency aid including 1.3 million people displaced by fighting in the Horn of Africa country, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a statement.

Around 1.4 million Somali farmers face a severe drought, while some 655,000 poor urban dwellers face high prices for basic food staples, the FAO said.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled their homes over the past three years of violence involving hardline Islamist movements and many more in total over the country's 18 years of almost uninterrupted civil chaos.

Hunger also stalks other countries in east Africa and the Horn of Africa region, the UN agency said.

The number of people depending on food aid in the region -- currently nearly 20 million -- "may increase as the hunger season progresses, particularly among marginal farmers, pastoralists and low-income urban dwellers," the FAO said.

"Below-average rains combined with conflict and displacement are aggravating an already serious food insecurity situation in the region," it said.

An added element is El Nino, a weather phenomenon associated with floods, droughts and other climatic disturbances, the FAO said.

"The effects of El Nino, which usually brings heavy rains towards the end of the year, could make matters worse, ... destroying crops both in the field and in stores (and) increasing livestock losses," the statement added.

Continued low purchasing power is also threatening food security in the region, the UN agency said.