NAIROBI, Kenya – The United Nations officially declared an end Friday to the famine that struck parts of Somalia last year, but it warned the country still faced dire conditions and could see a reversal.

“Long-awaited rains, coupled with substantial agricultural inputs and the humanitarian response deployed in the last six months, are the main reasons for this improvement,” the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva told journalists in Nairobi after visiting southern Somalia.

The U.N. estimates that a drought – combined with ongoing conflict and food shortages – had claimed tens of thousands of lives in 2011.

The improvements to agriculture, however, were not enough for many in the country. Southern Somalia still has one of the highest mortality rates in the world, according to the U.N.

“Millions of people still need food, clean water, shelter and other assistance to survive and the situation is expected to deteriorate in May,” warned the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

According to a report by the FAO and the United States Agency for International Development, the number of people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance has fallen from 4 million last year to 2.34 million, or 31 percent of the Somali population.


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