A record 4 million people in Somalia need humanitarian aid and 750,000 are in danger of "imminent starvation," the United Nations said Monday.
Famine in the east African country has spread to the Bay region, which is now the sixth area in Somalia to suffer from an acute shortage of food, according to the U.N. Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
U.N. officials are calling for a surge in response efforts as the crisis is forecast to worsen. "With the current food-security outcomes, famine conditions are expected to spread to [agricultural] populations in Gedo, Hiran, Middle Shabelle, and Juba regions and [river] populations of Juba and Gedo in the coming four months," FSNAU chief technical advisor Grainne Moloney said in a statement.
Of the 4 million people in need of emergency aid, 3 million are in the south. The total figure of people in need of aid has risen from 2.4 million eight months ago. Tens of thousands of people already have died, more than half of whom were children, according to the FSNAU, a unit of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The famine is being fueled by Somalia's worst drought in 60 years.