Somalia drought kills 110 people in two days

Around 363,000 malnourished children need urgent treatment

Somalia drought kills 110 people in two days

Somali girls who fled the drought | Image: PA Images

According to Somalia's Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region, as a severe drought takes hold across the country.

It's the first death toll announced by Somalia's government since it declared the drought as a national disaster on Tuesday. 

The United Nations has warned of a major famine, and says that five million people in the country need aid.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.

Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4bn aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

Thousands have been streaming into Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies.

"Urgent treatment"

The drought is the first crisis for Somalia's newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country in a fragile position. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development's Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned that "about 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished."

Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases. Some deaths from cholera have already have been reported.

The government has said the widespread hunger "makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks."