The UN announcement declaring famine in parts of Somalia must be an urgent wake up call

Published: 20th July 2011

The UN announcing famine in parts of Somalia, the first in the region in the 21st century, must be an urgent wake up call to the rest of the world, Oxfam said.

The crisis has been building for several months but the response from international donors and regional governments has been mostly slow, inadequate and complacent, and the aid response is still $800m short of what is needed.

There has been a catastrophic breakdown of the world's collective responsibility to act. An exodus of 3,500 people a day are fleeing Somalia and arriving in parts of Ethiopia and Kenya that are suffering one of the driest years in six decades. Food, water and emergency aid are desperately needed. By the time the UN calls it a famine it is already a signal of large scale loss of life. We must now ensure that aid comes quickly to prevent people dying in massive numbers.

Emergency aid is vital right now, but we also need to ask why this has happened, and how we can stop it ever happening again. The warning signs have been seen for months, and the world has been slow to act. Much greater long-term investment is needed in food production and basic development to help people cope with poor rains and ensure that this is the last famine in the region.

Read more

Slideshow: Drought in Somalia

Watch: Oxfam Alun McDonald reports from Kenya on the food crisis

Blog: The effects of drought on people's water intake in East Africa

Oxfam's response to the East Africa food crisis

Contact information

Further information: Alun McDonald, Media and Communications Officer, Horn East & Central Africa 
Mobile: +254 73666 6663
Office: +254 202820147 
Skype: alunmcdonald 
Twitter: @alunmcdonald