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Famine in Somalia is over

Proper harvest and continuing emergency food aid to Somalia has ended the famine, the United Nations announced on Friday.

The famine, declared by the United Nations last July, led to the killing of tens of thousands of people, mostly children. The report by The New York Times  adds that refugee camps in Kenya received mothers who had walked to seek help, but the trek was too far for their children to survive.

The United Nations has poured over $1 billion in relief efforts across the region. With the famine being declared officially over, aid organizations are looking to focus recover efforts on seed distribution and building irrigation canals.

However, while statistics say there is no more famine, many Somalians are still in serious need of emergency aid to survive. The Somalia Food Security Nutrition Analysis Unit reports that nearly 2.34 million people – a third of the population – still needs emergency care.

Furthermore, instability remains in the central and southern areas of Somalia under the control of al-Shabab, who has blocked most Western agencies from delivering aid. BBC News reports that the International Committee of the Red Cross has been banned from delivering food aid to areas under the control of al-Qaeda militants, on Monday.

“The situation in Somalia is still in the throes of its worst humanitarian crisis in decades,” Senait Gebreziabher, the head of Oxfam’s aid operations in Somalia said.

In recent weeks, conflict has increased due to thousands of Kenyan and Ethiopian forces pouring into Somalia, causing the al-Shabab to lose its ground.

“The world shouldn’t turn its back on Somalia. The gains made so far could be reversed if the conflict worsens,” Gabreziabher said.

Relentless conflict in a one of the poorest, most violent countries, plagued by last years droughts still has much to be cautious about.

The United Nations has only declared a famine in a few other places within the last 20 years, including Sudan in 1998, Ethiopia in 2001, and Niger in 2005.

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