Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — The United Nations declared a famine Wednesday in parts of southern Somalia as the east African nation suffers the worst drought in half a century.
Thousands of Somalis have fled in search of food and water, trekking for days in scorching temperatures in desperate attempts to reach refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
In calling it a famine, the United Nations draws global attention to a crisis that has been escalating for the past few months. It made an urgent appeal for donations.
“If we don’t act now, famine will spread to all eight regions of southern Somalia within two months, due to poor harvests and infectious disease outbreaks,” said Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia. “We still do not have all the resources for food, clean water, shelter and health services to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis in desperate need.”
He said nearly half of the people in Somali — 3.7 million of them — are now in crisis.