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United Nations Declares Famine in Sixth Region of Somalia

Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations declared a famine in a sixth region of Somalia, where tens of thousands of people have died this year and 750,000 more are at risk of starvation.

“There is a continuing deterioration,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden told reporters in Nairobi today. “Other areas of the country are falling into the critical category and in need of assistance, which includes parts of the north of the country as well.”

Hundreds of people, at least half of them children, are dying every day in Somalia and the food crisis will probably persist until at least the end of the year, Grainne Moloney, chief technical officer of the UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, said at the same briefing.

Famine has now spread to the southern Bay Region, according to a statement from the FSNAU and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network handed to reporters today in Nairobi. It joins Bakool, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and displaced communities in Afgoye and Mogadishu, the capital, all hit by Somalia’s lowest annual food production in 17 years.

The number of people requiring food assistance has increased to 4 million, or 53 percent of Somalia’s population, from 3.7 million people in July. Rains expected between October and December may bring a new threat through the spread of illnesses such as cholera, and there isn’t enough funding available to stop an outbreak of disease, Bowden said.

The UN has described the situation in the Horn of Africa as the worst drought in six decades, with Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti also affected.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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