Somalia: Without aid, thousands of lives will be at risk next year, warns the UN
The UN and aid agencies called for US$1.5 billion today to continue addressing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Somalia, where four million people lack basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.
“With the humanitarian situation expected to remain critical well into next year, early and full funding is essential,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, at the launch of the 2012 funding appeal for Somalia in Nairobi. “The Somalia crisis is everybody’s responsibility and Somalis need support now. We cannot afford to wait or we will let down the Somali people.”
Amidst drought, famine and conflict, tens of thousands of Somalis have already died this year while almost 300,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia. Despite a recent drop in the number of famine-stricken areas last month, a quarter of a million people in southern Somalia are still coping with famine.
“The life-saving plan can only be achieved if donors pledge and commit early,” said Mr. Bowden, calling on donors to act swiftly. The funding for next year will go towards providing basic aid such as food, water, shelter and healthcare. There will be projects to help the country build resilience so that communities are better prepared to withstand future droughts.
This year’s appeal, which is so far 80 per cent funded, made it possible for aid workers to reach hundreds of thousands of people. Within the first three months of famine being declared in July, the number of people receiving food tripled to 2.6 million and almost half a million malnourished children received nutrition supplements. By mid-November, the number of areas affected by famine dropped from six to three.
Ongoing conflict and insecurity, however, continues to make it difficult to deliver aid to some areas in Somalia. Access to people in dire need remains the biggest challenge in the aid operation. Late last month, the Al-Shabaab, an armed group, banned 16 UN agencies and NGOs working in areas under its control in south and central Somalia, threatening to undermine the fragile progress made so far.