Famine in Somalia

With five regions in Somalia already declared famine zones, the the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported on Aug. 3 that famine is likely to spread across all regions of Somalia’s south and that famine conditions may persist until December. Potentially more than 11 million people in the region could be affected by the famine, brought on by escalating food costs and the worst drought in half a century. More than 3.2 million are in need of immediate, life-saving assistance. According to the Jesuit Refugee Service, the current crisis is the consequence of the extreme drought and other overlapping problems, including the lack of a functioning central government in Somalia and the inability of aid agencies to gain access to south central Somalia, which is controlled by the al-Shabab militant group. In Ethiopia, a humanitarian effort led by Catholic Relief Services is ramping up; now feeding 400,000 people, it should reach one million later this month.

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At Rome's Basilica of St. Bartholomew, a shrine to modern martyrs, Pope Francis presided over an evening prayer service April 22, honoring Christians killed under Nazism, communism, dictatorships and terrorism.
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