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Report: 750K Somalis could starve to death

  |   Sept. 5, 2011 at 10:41 AM
MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- About three-quarters of a million Somalis could starve to death because of poor crop production and reduced purchasing power, a U.N. food agency said Monday.

A survey indicated acute malnutrition and the mortality rate pushed southern Somalia's bay region into the famine category, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported.

The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit said its August survey indicated 4 million people were "in crisis" in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of starving to death in the next four months in the absence of an adequate response, the United Nations agency said.

The crisis in southern Somalia is driven by a combination of factors, the analysis unit said. The total failure of the October-December 2010 Deyr rains and the poor performance of the April-June 2011 Gu 2011 rains led to the worst annual crop production in 17 years, reduced labor demand, below-average livestock prices and excess animal mortality, the unit said.

The survey also said the drop in maize and sorghum availability pushed local cereal prices to record levels and -- when combined with reduced livestock prices and wages -- reduced household purchasing power. The report also cited large-scale displacement and restrictions on humanitarian access.

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