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Two million Somalis facing severe hunger due to dry spell | Coastweek

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- Local residents queue to receive food aid in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Humanitarian agencies operating in Somalia on Monday warned that at least 1.7 million people face acute food shortages due to delayed and insufficient seasonal rainfall in the Horn of Africa nation.  XINHUA PHOTOS - HASSAN BASHI

United Nations agency reports at least more than two
million Somalis facing severe hunger due to dry spell

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned on Wednesday that some 2.2 million Somalis could face severe hunger in during the July-September period due to drought.

The UN food agency, which issued a special alert on Somalia, said life-saving and livelihood support are urgently needed to prevent loss of lives due to disastrous drought.

Mario Zappacosta, FAO senior economist and leader of the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), said a significant lack of rains in April and early May has rendered dry and barren up to 85 percent of the croplands in the country’s breadbaskets and according to the latest projections, food grown during the "Gu" season is likely to be 50 percent below average.

"Rains in April and early May can make or break Somalis’ food security for the whole year as they are crucial for the country’s main annual harvest in July, following the "Gu" rainy season," Zappacosta said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

The alert indicates that the number of hungry people in Somalia this year is expected to be 40 percent higher than estimates made at the beginning of 2019.

The alert says a deteriorating nutritional status is also of major concern, adding that acute malnutrition rates as well as the number of acutely malnourished children being admitted to therapeutic feeding centers have sharply increased in 2019.

According to FAO, poor rains since last October have also taken a heavy toll on herders and their livestock as vegetation has been drying up and water has been increasingly scarce.

The FAO alert warns of a worrying number of animals in very poor health conditions, due to low body weight and drought-induced diseases, in the country’s central and northern regions.

"Herders in the worst drought-affected areas, such as central Galgaduud and in northern Bari and Sanaag regions, have been forced to slaughter the offspring of their goats and sheep as they don’t have enough fodder and water for all their animals, and try to save the milk-producing female livestock," said FAO Somalia Representative Serge Tissot.

Tissot said many herders have not been able to replace livestock lost during the 2017 drought that ravaged the country, so they already have less resources.

"Now, on top of that, as food and water become scarcer, they have to pay higher prices for trucked-in water and their daily food," he added.

The latest projection, based on data gathered by FAO experts, including analyses of rainfall, temperatures, water availability and vegetation health, points to the worse drought in years.

The UN agency said some rains are expected in May, but these will be insufficient and arrive too late for crop and pasture recovery before the onset of the dry season.


International Monetary Fund forecasts Somalia economic
growth to strengthen to three percent in 2019

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday projected Somalia’s economic growth to strengthen to 3 percent from 2.8 percent in 2018.

Allison Holland, who led an IMF team discussing Somalia’s Article IV program said the economy continues to recover, supported by vigorous activity in the construction, telecommunications, and financial services sectors in 2018.

"Economic growth is estimated at 2.8 percent, and end-year inflation is estimated at 3.2 percent for 2018. Growth is projected to strengthen to 3.0 percent and inflation to ease further to 3.0 percent, in 2019," Holland said in a statement issued in Mogadishu on Tuesday.

However, the IMF warned that the outlook remains vulnerable to the still fragile security situation, climate shocks and the still developing institutional capacity, and more is needed to improve economic resilience, increase employment and reduce poverty.

The lender said the government has stepped up efforts to broaden the tax base and strengthen tax administration which it said has been reflected in increased domestic revenue, which reached 184 million U.S. dollars in 2018, almost 30 percent higher than in 2017, and 54 million dollars for the first quarter of 2019.

Holland said the overall cash fiscal position remains in surplus, adding that public financial management continues strengthening, including a sustained improvement in cash forecasting and reduction in the use of cash advances.

"Nevertheless, Somalia remains heavily dependent on grants and more efforts will be needed to create space for critical social and development spending, and put Somalia clearly on the path to fiscal self-sufficiency," she said.

Holland said the team is encouraged by the authorities’ further efforts to enhance financial sector supervision, especially to bring mobile money service providers within the oversight of the Central Bank of Somalia.

"Staff also welcomes progress in strengthening the implementation of the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, including the commencement of large transaction reporting and efforts to build capacity at the Financial Reporting Center. Staff urged the authorities to address remaining gaps in AML/CFT regulation," Holland said.


UNHCR says struggling to meet needed funds for refugees in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday said it has only received 14 percent of the 346.5 million U.S. dollars it requires to meet the needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

In a press statement sent to Xinhua, the UNHCR said 346.5 million dollars are needed to meet the basic nutritional, educational, health, clean water, sanitation and shelter needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

The UNHCR has registered 915,073 refugees as of Aug. 31, 2018 in Ethiopia, most of whom are housed in refugee camps in six regional states.

Ethiopia hosts the second largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda.

Refugees in Ethiopia primarily come from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, according to the UNHCR.

Conflict and drought in neighboring countries continues to force people to seek refuge in Ethiopia, which has a long tradition of hosting refugees.

Ethiopia has also in recent years hosted an increasing number of refugees fleeing conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Two Canadian women freed from Somaliland arrive in Toronto

OTTAWA Canada (Xinhua) -- Two Canadian women who were jailed in self-declared republic Somaliland for two months after being accused of drinking alcohol arrived in Toronto on Sunday morning, according to CBC.

The two women were arrested in the city of Hargeisa after being accused of consuming alcohol, which is illegal in Somaliland, a breakaway region in northern Somalia.

According to their lawyer, the pair signed confessions "under duress," hoping to avoid being detained.

They were sentenced to two and a half months in jail and 40 lashes.


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