New York — With below-normal rains, an influx of displaced people, insecurity and worsening health conditions sparking a "dramatic deterioration" in Somalia's Shabelle region, long viewed as the strife-torn country's breadbasket, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for $22.4 million to feed 1.2 million people and avoid a looming break in food supplies.
The number of people in need represents an increase of 200,000 over previous estimates. Without new contributions, food will start running out in the faction-riven East African country in October.
"The Shabelle regions usually export food to other regions, but this year they cannot feed themselves so the most vulnerable require our help," WFP Country Director Peter Goossens said. Also, families driven from the capital, Mogadishu, by fighting need food for the coming months.
"Donors were extremely generous toward the people of Somalia in this tough year, and I appeal for that spirit to continue to help end the suffering of the growing number of weakest Somalis, mainly women and children. We cannot desert them in their time of need," he added.
WFP revised its requirements from its previous target of 1 million people in light of an assessment report this month by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Security Analysis Unit Somalia, which found that a sudden humanitarian emergency had hit more than 600,000 people in Lower and Middle Shabelle in southern Somalia and in Mogadishu.
The 1.2 million to be fed by WFP include people who fled their homes in Mogadishu since April, recent returnees to Mogadishu and large sections of the population in need of food in the troubled south. The capital has been torn by violence since the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government drove out the Islamist Courts Union at the end of last year.
"Cash contributions are especially useful because we can then buy food regionally and help bridge the gaps," Mr. Goossens said, noting that it takes up to four months for food aid in kind to reach people in Somalia.