4 June 2014

Somalia - UN Aid Chief Calls for $60 Million Emergency Funding Through Summer Months

The United Nations humanitarian chief today called for $60 million for the next three months to prevent Somalia "from slipping back into a major humanitarian crisis" as it did during the 2011 famine.

Briefing the Security Council, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos stressed that "early warnings must trigger early action so that Somalia moves towards and not away from food security; that it remains polio-free; and that the resilience of the people is reinforced."

Approximately 857,000 Somalis require urgent and life-saving assistance. An additional 2 million people are on the margin of food insecurity and require continued livelihoods support, Ms. Amos said, citing figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Despite the commitment of the international community to avert another humanitarian disaster in Somalia, financial support is "especially low this year," she said. Only 19 per cent of the $933 million humanitarian appeal is funded.

Some donors have announced a decrease of their contribution in 2014 and the trend is expected to continue into 2015.

Remittances, another lifeline for millions of Somalis, are also at risk, Ms. Amos said, as banks continue to threaten to close Somali money transfer organizations as they are seen as a high risk for illegal activities.

Meanwhile, UN political officials have marked the first anniversary of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) by reiterating continued support for the Government and people of the Horn of Africa nation, while also calling on Somalis to step up progress on peace and state building.

"The UN family has a larger presence on the ground in Somalia than at any time in the last 18 years," Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said in a news release issued yesterday. "This is tangible evidence of our strong commitment to continue to work alongside Somalis as they build peace and rebuild their country."

Set up last June, UNSOM is tasked with, among other things, providing UN 'good offices' functions to support peace and reconciliation; assisting the Government and the existing African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM with advice on peacebuilding and state building; and helping build capacity in human rights and the rule of law.

"In the year since the Federal Government of Somalia asked the United Nations to help coordinate international assistance as the country emerged from decades of conflict, UNSOM has established a presence across the country," Mr. Feltman added.

Nicholas Kay, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia and head of UNSOM, noted that the country has made important political, economic and security progress in the last year but much more remains to be done.

"The expectations of the Somali people are high and time is limited. I call on all Somalia's leaders and institutions to unite for the greater good of Somalia," Mr. Kay said, speaking at a special event yesterday in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

The country is currently developing a federal system, reviewing the provisional Constitution and preparing for elections in 2016 as part of the "Vision 2016" strategy.

The Special Representative noted that much more needs to be done between now and then, but that the UN and the international community would support the efforts.

"Somalia will continue to be guided by the principles of Somali ownership, leadership and respect for the provisional Constitution," he added.

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