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Photos: Thousands may die in parched Somalia, UN warns

Severe droughts are stifling Somalia and forecasts of little rain this year will make things worse, particularly in northern Somalia where people are dependent on livestock for food, the United Nations recently said.

On March 31, Peter de Clercq, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, appealed for $105 million in aid to provide life-saving assistance to nearly 2 million people affected by the severe drought in the autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland. The funding would help the country’s malnourished through September, he said.

“Without access to emergency health services, water and sanitation, thousands of people could face death due to preventable causes,” he said in a statement. “The time to fund is now, to come back from the tipping point, avoid a greater crisis and avert loss of lives.”

The water shortage also reduces grasses for livestock and makes the animals more susceptible to disease. The loss of livestock means the loss of a means of income to support their families.

Editor’s Note: Photographer Sebastian Rich was commissioned by UNICEF to document the effects of the drought in Somalia. View his photos below.

The searing heat creates a huge dust devil that cuts through a small village in the region of Somaliland in northern Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

The searing heat creates a huge dust devil that cuts through a small village in the region of Somaliland in northern Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A family passes one of many dead goats as they look for water in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A family passes one of many dead goats as they look for water in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

Portrait of a young woman in a maternity ward in Somaliland by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

Portrait of a young woman in a maternity ward in Somaliland by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A baby is born into drought in Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A baby is born into drought in Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

Women walk for miles in search of water in drought-stricken Somaliland in Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

Women walk for miles in search of water in drought-stricken Somaliland in Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A young woman and her newborn are displaced by the severe drought in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A young woman and her newborn are displaced by the severe drought in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

An elderly woman is one of more than 1 million Somalis internally displaced due to conflict and drought, according to the United Nations. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

An elderly woman is one of more than 1 million Somalis internally displaced due to conflict and drought, according to the United Nations. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A young girl visits a UNICEF walk-in clinic with her mother in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A young girl visits a UNICEF walk-in clinic with her mother in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A malnourished child is fed with a syringe. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A malnourished child is fed with a syringe. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A young girl drags one of the many dead goats of her family's herd due to drought in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A young girl drags one of the many dead goats of her family’s herd due to drought in Somaliland. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A boy sits near a dead donkey in Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

A boy sits near a dead donkey in Somalia. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

An elderly man regards one of his dead goats in Somaliland, where a worsening drought threatens the livelihoods of nearly 2 million people. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

An elderly man regards one of his dead goats in Somaliland, where a worsening drought threatens the livelihoods of nearly 2 million people. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

Two young men return to their village after traveling 25 miles to hunt for water. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

Two young men return to their village after traveling 25 miles to hunt for water. Photo by Sebastian Rich for UNICEF

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