MOGADISHU, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- The UN relief official on Thursday called on the international community to stay the course and sustain famine prevention efforts in Somalia.
Peter de Clercq, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, expressed concern about the continued threat of famine in Somalia, whilst praising the collective efforts that have so far prevented famine from being declared.
"Through robust humanitarian assistance and the modest benefits from the underperforming Gurains, the situation has stabilized but remains of serious concern at emergency levels," Clercq said at the launch of the latest food security and nutrition assessment results in Mogadishu.
The statement comes after the release of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)-managed Food and Security Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) assessments show a decrease of the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance from 6.7 million to 6.2 million people.
The report says the threat of localized famine countered by scaled-up humanitarian response is as relevant today as it was in the first months of this crisis.
Clercq called on aid agencies to keep up the good work and maintain current efforts to avert a deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
The Horn of Africa nation is experiencing an intense drought, induced by consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and is one of four countries faced by the threat of famine in 2017, including Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.
The Gu harvest will provide temporary relief for some communities in terms of food availability, but the harvest is reduced due to poor rains and access to food remains constrained and prices will remain elevated through at least early 2018.
"Whereas there is a modest decline in the number of people in need, we have seen an increase in the number of persons in the emergency-phase (IPC 4) compared to the previous assessment," Clercq said.
"When we announced the threat of famine in February, the number of people in need stood at 6.2 million and therefore Somalia is unfortunately not yet out of the woods," he added.
Malnutrition, one of the leading indicators of the crisis, has reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia, primarily, though not exclusively among displaced populations.
The report says some 388,000 acutely malnourished children are in need of critical nutrition support, including life-saving treatment for more than 87,000 severely malnourished children.
FAO Representative in Somalia, Daniele Donati, said unlike the 2011 famine, this year, drought related displacement occurred mostly in localized areas.
"We must seize the opportunity to support the voluntary return of IDPs, while at the same time preventing new displacements by providing integrated support in rural areas," Donati said.
"We proved that together we can stave off famine with sustained humanitarian assistance. In the long term, livelihoods must be restored in order to make lasting improvements to food security - these efforts cannot diminish - neither in speed nor scale."
The Horn of Africa nation experienced the worst famine of the twenty-first century in 2011, affecting an estimated 4 million people, three-quarters of a million of whom faced famine conditions.
The famine resulted in the loss of more than a quarter million lives.