60 million people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda do not always know where to get their next meal, said Dominique Ferretti of the UN World Food Program (WFP) emergency response team in Nairobi. In the past seven years, the number of starving people has more than doubled.
In Somalia and South Sudan, 83,000 people are in dire need and often only have a chance to eat a few times a week. 5.1 million children under the age of five are acutely malnourished in the region, Ferretti said.
There are many reasons
There have been various devastating developments in East Africa in recent years: the Covid 19 pandemic, an Ebola outbreak, numerous other epidemics from cholera to measles to dengue fever, a plague of locusts and conflicts like the one now in Sudan. According to the UN, around 4.9 million refugees have left their home countries.
The Horn of Africa has also experienced the longest drought in recent history, Ferretti added. The drought lasted two and a half years and hit people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia hard. Crops, livestock and stocks were destroyed.
The Black Sea exacerbates concerns
In recent months, the rainy season from March to May has finally brought relief to farmers and livestock in the region. However, rain is not enough to end the crisis. Therefore, if the UN initiative to export grain from Ukraine is not renewed in July, it would be an additional catastrophe, Ferretti said. “Ukraine has always been the breadbasket for Africa and the Middle East.”
Russia blocked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports after invading Ukraine in February 2022. Eventually, Moscow allowed internationally monitored grain exports. But it always threatens not to extend the program any further.
rb/as (dpa, epd, Reuters)