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UN: The extreme drought in Somalia last year alone killed 43 thousand people

UN: The extreme drought in Somalia last year alone killed 43 thousand people

As many as 43,000 people may have died in Somalia last year after several seasons without rain, a new report by the Somali government and the UN suggests. This is the first official death toll from the drought in the Horn of Africa. Half of the deaths are thought to be in children under five. The crisis is "far from over", with another 18,000-34,000 deaths expected in the first six months of this year. In 2011, a famine in Somalia killed over a quarter of a million people.

"We are racing against time to prevent deaths and save avoidable lives," said World Health Organization (WHO) representative Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik.

The UN says it needs $2.6 billion for its drought response plan in Somalia this year. So far, less than 15% of this has been funded. Millions of farm animals have died in the crisis, which has been exacerbated by climate change, political instability and rising global food prices.

One problem has been getting aid into territory controlled by al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda and is considered a terrorist group by the US and UK. Al-Shabab regularly carries out brutal attacks in Somalia and poses a massive obstacle to humanitarian activity. But strict US government rules blocking any aid from benefiting designated terrorist groups have also complicated the situation. Some humanitarian officials believe the international community has sidelined the crisis because of the war in Ukraine. The report published on Monday was commissioned by Unicef ​​and WHO and was carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London.

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