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Drought and fall-out from Moscow's war may trigger catastrophic famine

New government in Mogadishu struggles to deal with deepening food and security crises

Just weeks after his election, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is confronted with a national and regional food supply crisis as his opponents in Al Shabaab try to capitalise on the ensuing instability.

The scale of the worst drought in decades in East Africa has left 230,000 Somalis living in catastrophic, famine-like conditions, with humanitarian aid agencies warning that without an immediate increase in financial support the country could be facing a repeat of the 2011 famine, when 250,000 people died, half of them children.

Conditions have been made tougher still by the local effects of Moscow's war on Ukraine, which include increases in the prices of food, fuel and fertiliser and fractured supply lines.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has reported a sharp rise in acute malnutrition admissions at its clinics across Somalia, with one recording a 265% increase in admissions from April to May. Mogadishu, Puntland, the south-west and central Somalia are seeing particularly high levels of hunger (AC Vol 63 No 12, Hassan Sheikh takes Mogadishu by storm).

Some 7 million of Somalia's 16m people are at risk of famine, according to the IRC.

The effects of the drought on food production, which caused food prices to increase by 100-200% in March, have been compounded by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Somalia imported 92% of its grain from Russia and Ukraine prior to the conflict and high prices and supply disruption have caused a huge drop in imports.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the number of people facing hunger in the Horn of Africa due to the drought might rise from 14m to 20m by the end of the year. Last month, the G7 leaders responded to the WFP appeal for $21 billion in emergency funding this year by offering $4bn.

Those shortfalls are filtering down to country level. Aid organisations blame donor fatigue for the failure to fully fund the WFP's Somalia food security target.

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