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Somalians face famine on massive scale: Red Cross

by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Nov 14, 2008
Hundreds of thousands of Somalians face a major famine because of violence and a drought that is ravaging the centre and south of the country, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Friday.

"We are seeing a major deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Somalia," said Pascal Mauchle, head of the organisation's delegation for the country.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the fighting and drought. External factors, such as the global food crisis and the skyrocketing prices resulting from it, have made the economic situation even worse.

"The chronic nature of the crisis has completely exhausted people's coping abilities."

"In 2008, the ICRC will have almost tripled its food aid compared with last year," said Mathias Frese, the organisation's relief coordinator for Somalia, adding that loss of basic property such as land and cattle was posing an acute danger to the livelihood of civilians and that growing numbers of Somalis were now completely destitute.

During the coming weeks the ICRC plans to distribute food rations to 435,000 people in the northeast of the country.

More than 11,000 families displaced by the fighting will be given basic household goods such as blankets, material for building shelters, clothes and kitchen sets.

The ICRC said that this year it had already distributed food rations for up to four months to more than half a million people affected by drought and conflict. In addition, 75,000 families forced to abandon their homes had received household items and shelter materials.

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