21 September 2007

Somalia: Hundreds of Thousands Need Urgent Aid, Says Government

Nairobi — Somalia's transitional federal government has appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance for hundreds of thousands of people affected by drought, floods and displacement.

"We need urgent assistance if we are to avert an impending humanitarian crisis," Information Minister Madobe Nuunow said on 20 September. "The government will take any step necessary to support those who come to help our people."

He called on international relief agencies to "move quickly before it is too late". "We need help now," he added. The majority of those affected were in southern and central regions, he said, adding: "Some regions are experiencing drought, while others have been flooded."

In the south, the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions and the Middle and Lower Jubas, Bay and Bakol are hosting thousands of displaced while also suffering the effects of drought and floods, he said.

"Mogadishu [the capital] has a lot of people who have fled their homes and are currently in makeshift camps with very little shelter, food or health facilities," said Nuunow.

The situation of internally displaced persons was most problematic. "They are the ones who need greatest attention," the minister said. "The 'Deyr' [short rains] is upon us and most of them don't have shelter, enough food or medical care."

Displaced by violence

Thousands of people continue to be displaced by violence in Mogadishu between Ethiopian-backed transitional government forces and insurgents, according to civil society groups.

Nuunow said that although there were security problems in Mogadishu, "it was not directed against international agencies and therefore should not be used as an excuse not to help."

According to the August 2007 report of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization's Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU), the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased 50 percent, from 1 to 1.5 million.

"Those are the figures generally accepted by the humanitarian community," Peter Goossens, the UN World Food Programme country director, said.

According to FSAU, 295,000 require life-saving interventions, and 490,000 face an acute food security and livelihood crisis requiring livelihood support.

In addition, there are 325,000 people who are newly displaced from Mogadishu who need both life- and livelihood-saving interventions, said the report.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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