19 October 2017

Somalia: UN Delivering Coordinated Humanitarian Response in Wake of Mogadishu Bombings

Photo: Abdirizak Mohamud Tuuryare
Car bomb in Mogadishu (file photo).
analysis

The United Nations family of agencies and programmes is continuing to roll out its response in support of the recovery and clean-up effort in Mogadishu following Saturday's massive car bomb blast, which killed some 300 people, injured hundreds more, and is being called Somalia's worst-ever such attack.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are among the host of UN entities already on the ground. More than 100 UN staff have donated blood to help the injured.

The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has deployed technical advisors, medics and bomb-sniffing dog teams at the main bomb blast site near the Safari Hotel. Fire unit personnel from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the UN Support Office in Somalia have been using specialized life-detection equipment to search for survivors.

According UNSOM, youth from local universities also joined the clean-up and rescue operation earlier this week. More than 300 youth volunteers are participating in the effort and were accompanied by the Mogadishu Mayor, Thabit Abdi Mohamed, in clearing the debris and rubble.

Our short video story takes you inside the post-blast recovery effort, and in a related Soundcloud, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Vincent Lelei, tells UN News that the international community's support to Somalia is a "silver lining" in the face of the tragedy.

The United Nations has mobilized its staff and resources to aid Somalis affected by last Saturday's bomb blasts in the capital Mogadishu.

"We have called upon our colleagues in the UN family to donate blood. At the same time, the entire UN family is also mobilizing in support for the response by the Federal Government and the local administration," said the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga.

Since last Sunday, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has deployed technical advisors, medics and explosives-detecting dog teams at the main bomb blast site near the Safari Hotel. Fire unit personnel from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the UN Support Office in Somalia have been using specialized life-detection equipment to search for survivors.

On Monday, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) delivered 3.8 metric tonnes of medical supplies - donated by the United Kingdom - to Mogadishu's Medina Hospital and a newly established National Emergency Operations Centre. UNICEF also erected three large tents for personnel tracing patients' relatives.

Earlier this week, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also delivered tents, a generator and 1,000 non-food item kits to Medina Hospital and the operations centre.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) contributed three tons of medicines and other emergency relief supplies on Tuesday to treat those wounded in the explosions.

In addition, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has delivered radios to a local ambulance company and is planning to provide cash payments to hundreds of youth who have been participating in rubble-clearing operations at the main blast site.

For its part, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is helping to synchronise the response of various UN humanitarian agencies and the massive donations of international partners supporting the recovery effort.

On behalf of UN family in Somalia - 137 of whom have donated blood - Mr. Zenenga expressed deep sadness over the attacks that killed more than 300 civilians and injured hundreds more.

While noting that many city hospitals had been overwhelmed by the number of people wounded and were running short of supplies, he said that the UN is working closely with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to ensure that they provide adequate support to federal and local government ministries and agencies.

"Our support as the UN family will partly go through AMISOM, including some equipment and medical supplies," Mr. Zenenga said.

Alan Macdonald, Director of UNMAS Somalia, pointed out the important role played by the agency's sniffer dogs in searching for secondary explosive devices around the perimeter area of the main blast site.

"In the second day, the response changed, we have explosive detection dogs but we've also augmented that with combat engineering support where we are helping the AMISOM soldiers with heavy equipment for removing rubble at the site," Mr. Macdonald noted.

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