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Famine ends in Somalia, as drought looms in West Africa

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These gains can be reversed, Mr. Gebregzhiabher added. "We are seriously concerned that if people do not have the security to tend their crops and animals, or the freedom to access clean water and food in the markets, the humanitarian situation will deteriorate once again.

At its height, the drought in the Horn of Africa region affected 12 million people, in Somalia, Ethiopia, and in northern Kenya. Early warnings from a Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) – a complex system of field censors and satellite data – alerted donor agencies well in advance, but a slow response of donor nations in 2011 may have cost the lives of 29,000 children under the age of 5, according to studies by the US government.

Donor nations came under heavy criticism for their slow response, but aid groups acknowledge the situation is exacerbated by Somalia’s security situation, where Islamist rebel groups have restricted the activities of major aid organizations. Just this week, the radical Al-Shabab militia banned the International Committee of the Red Cross from operating in the areas of southern central Somali that remain under Al-Shabab control.

On Twitter, an Al-Shabab spokesman calling himself (or herself) @HSMPress accused the Red Cross of distributing outdated food that was “unfit for human consumption.”

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