UN: Almost 1 million drought-hit Somalis in al-Shabab areas

Oct 25, 2022, 12:48 PM | Updated: Oct 26, 2022, 12:50 am
A woman walks past makeshift shelters at a camp for the internally-displaced on the outskirts of Ba...

A woman walks past makeshift shelters at a camp for the internally-displaced on the outskirts of Baidoa, in the South West State of Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. The World Food Programme said Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 it is delivering life-saving food and nutrition assistance to over 4 million people a month to prevent famine in the face of the region's worst drought in over 40 years. (Geneva Costopulos/WFP via AP)

(Geneva Costopulos/WFP via AP)

              Nuuriya Ali Mohammed Nuur, 30, who has ten children but was only able to bring four with her and the oldest stayed behind with their father, sits with her son Mohammed Nuur Mohammed, 2, in the camp for the internally-displaced which they travelled to after their livestock died due to the drought, on the outskirts of Baidoa, in the South West State of Somalia Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. The World Food Programme said Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 it is delivering life-saving food and nutrition assistance to over 4 million people a month to prevent famine in the face of the region's worst drought in over 40 years. (Geneva Costopulos/WFP via AP)
            
              Somalis who left rural areas due to drought receive nutritional assistance at a camp for the internally-displaced on the outskirts of Baidoa, in the South West State of Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. The World Food Programme said Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 it is delivering life-saving food and nutrition assistance to over 4 million people a month to prevent famine in the face of the region's worst drought in over 40 years. (Geneva Costopulos/WFP via AP)
            
              A woman walks past makeshift shelters at a camp for the internally-displaced on the outskirts of Baidoa, in the South West State of Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. The World Food Programme said Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 it is delivering life-saving food and nutrition assistance to over 4 million people a month to prevent famine in the face of the region's worst drought in over 40 years. (Geneva Costopulos/WFP via AP)
            
              FILE - A child is weighed at a camp for displaced people amid drought on the outskirts of Dollow, Somalia, Sept. 19, 2022. Extreme weather from climate change triggered hunger in vulnerable populations worldwide as the world’s “fossil fuel addiction” degrades public health each year, doctors reported in a new study. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The United Nations says close to 1 million drought-affected people in Somalia are in areas under the control or influence of the al-Shabab extremist group, and it appealed to the fighters to allow humanitarian access as famine threatens the country.

The U.N. secretary-general’s special representative in Somalia, James Swan, told journalists Wednesday that the 900,000 people in those areas represent a “relatively small” share of the more than 7 million in need as the Horn of Africa country faces its worst drought in several decades. Thousands of people have died, including many children.

“It is obviously regrettable” that access remains difficult because of al-Shabab, Swan said, adding that talks continue with Somali organizations and private sector entities that might be able to reach places controlled or under the influence of the extremist group.

Al-Shabab’s hostility to aid efforts during a famine in Somalia a decade ago was a factor in the deaths of a quarter-million people.

The U.N. weeks ago warned that without substantially more international assistance, a rare formal famine declaration could be made for parts of Somalia by the end of the year.

Swan said the next announcement from an ongoing assessment of drought data should be made in the next three weeks.

Somalia, like other countries with long-running humanitarian crises, saw support from many donors drop this year as the focus swung to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Swan noted a “substantial increase in delivery of assistance” in recent months, but the U.N. says more needs to be done.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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UN: Almost 1 million drought-hit Somalis in al-Shabab areas