MOGADISHU, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- More than 6.2 million people in Somalia are facing acute food insecurity due to severe drought that has gripped several parts of the Horn of Africa nation, the UN said on Thursday.
The latest findings from the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) indicate that over 2.9 million people face crisis and emergency across Somalia through June.
This, the report says, represents more than two-fold increase compared to six months ago. The joint report said more than 3.3 million people are classified as stressed, bringing the total number of people facing acute food insecurity across Somalia to over 6.2 million.
"This latest report tells us that we risk famine in several areas of Somalia in the coming months. The warning could not be clearer and it could not be more stark," FAO Representative in Somalia Dick Trenchard said in a joint statement with WFP and UNICEF at the launch of report in Mogadishu.
Trenchard said what worries most is the projected speed of deterioration, the scale -- in terms of number of people at risk, the geography and the very real risk of a significant worsening.
"The early warning we have been given could not be clearer. But we have it within our grasp to avert catastrophe, to avert famine in Somalia today. International partners, Somali civil society and government at regional and federal levels must work together to avert the risk of famine," he said.
The report says food crisis is worsening in rural areas following consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and low river water levels, which led to near total crop failures and reduced rural employment opportunities, widespread shortage of water and pasture, consequent increases in livestock deaths.
The report says the rapidly diminishing food access among poor households as staple food prices continue to rise sharply and livestock prices decrease significantly due to failed rainfall.
According to the report, levels of acute malnutrition in Somalia have increased since July 2016.
Results from 27 separate nutrition surveys conducted between November and December 2016 by FSNAU and partners indicate that an estimated 363,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished and face increased risk of morbidity and death.
The report says 363,000 acutely malnourished children need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished.
"Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed to support over 2.9 million people who face acute food security Crisis and Emergency. Scaling up life-saving humanitarian assistance urgently and providing livelihood protection support are equally important in slowing the tide of drought/hunger related displacement," it says.