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The U.N. is warning that Somalia, which is struggling with severe drought after two seasons of weak rainfall, could face a return to famine in April without a “massive” increase in global aid:


The looming crisis threatens to be even bigger than a 2011 famine that killed an estimated 260,000 people. Three-quarters of the country’s livestock have already died, numerous open-water sources have dried up, and cereal production has fallen by 75%.


Mindful that funding from the international community came in 2011 only after 13 famine warnings had been ignored, the U.N. made an urgent call on Feb. 2 for donors to give at least $300 million to ease the crisis.


There are fears that al-Shabab militants will divert or hold up aid and newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed will be unable to ease its passage in a country that lacks a functioning government. The real test, however, is whether fatigued Western nations react fast enough or wait until the numbers of the dead can no longer be ignored.


This appears in the February 27, 2017 issue of TIME.

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