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Somalia's Starvation Grows: UN

Somali young girl cooks food outside their makeshift home inside a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. A new U.N. report says five million people, more than 40 percent of the population in Somalia, are not getting enough food

Nearly a quarter of a million people are facing starvation in Somalia as a drought worsens and global food prices hover near record highs, United Nations agencies said on Monday.

Around 213,000 Somalis could face starvation, three times the number forecast in April according to United Nations bodies.

That's the grim assessment from the UN's World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the children's agency UNICEF and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The agencies said some 7.1 million Somalis - or nearly half the population - face acute levels of food insecurity, meaning they will be barely able to get the minimum calories they need and might have to sell assets to survive.

"The lives of the most vulnerable are already at risk from malnutrition and hunger, we cannot wait for a declaration of famine to act," El-Khidir Daloum, the WFP's country director in Somalia, said.

At the same time, world food prices are close to record highs hit in March as the Russia-Ukraine war roils markets for staple grains and edible oils

The UN agencies said a fourth consecutive rainy season had failed in the Horn of Africa country and meteorologists were warning of another below-average rainy season later this year. The drought is attributed to the world's climate becomes more erratic.

In 2011, famine conditions killed an estimated quarter of a million people in Somalia.

The U.N.'s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 18% funded to date, and Somalia is competing with other global emergency hotspots for funding as food insecurity spreads around the world, the agencies added.