Somali relief ‘complex’ issue
Humanitarian supplies, water, health and sanitation services are being delivered to more Somalis, in the famine that has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of children, the UN said Wednesday.
A major obstacle that had held up humanitarian access to Somalia's worst-hit regions in the south was removed after the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab abruptly withdrew last week, UN officials in Somalia and the humanitarian emergency coordinator (OCHA) informed the UN Security Council.
OCHA's Catherine Bragg said up to 100,000 Somalis have migrated to Mogadishu to escape famine in the south, adding to the more than 370,000 displaced people already seeking refuge in the capital. Other Somalis fled to Kenya and Ethiopia, which are suffering the same drought across the Horn of Africa and are similarly endangered by famine.
The UN said the worst famine in 60 years in Somalia has killed 13 out of every 10,000 children under age 5 every day in recent months.
Bragg said 3.7 million people are in famine crisis throughout Somalia, including 3.2 million people who need immediate, life-saving assistance. She said food supplies, water and sanitation facilities have been increasingly provided to hundreds of thousands of people.
“Humanitarian operations in Mogadishu remain complex, and the scaling up of activities is not a quick endeavour,” Bragg said.
She said the UN and non-governmental organizations were still assessing the withdrawal of al-Shabaab, because the pullout was not complete and security in some areas remained uncertain.
Bragg said the relief operations still need 1.3 billion dollars, after donor countries had pledged 1 billion dollars.
The US alone has donated 565 million dollars to alleviate famine in the Horn of Africa, US Ambassador Susan Rice said.
The UN special envoy for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, speaking from Mogadishu by video conference to the 15-nation Security Council in New York, said the suffering is “immense” in Somalia and other nations in the Horn.
“For the first time in years, the transitional government has the prospects of exercising authority over the whole of Mogadishu,” Mahiga said.
He said the insurgents' withdrawal should expedite political gains as well as the delivery of humanitarian supplies to famine areas. -