Humanitarian crisis in Somalia worsening than projected- UN

Children receive a meal at a school through the World Food Programme (WFP) in the drought-hit Baligubadle village near Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland, in this handout picture provided by The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on March 15, 2017. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies/Handout via REUTERS.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia is fast deteriorating and the crisis is unlikely to ease any time soon, the UN has warned calling for scaled up international support to avert more deaths and suffering.

Addressing the UN Security Council Wednesday, deputy head of the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Raisedon Zenenga said the food security in the country is expected to decline further increasing the risks of deaths particularly among women and children.

“The tragedy, emanating from the severe drought, continues to unfold. The humanitarian crisis has deteriorated more rapidly than was originally projected,” Zenenga said.

The UN official noted the Gu rains in April and May arrived late and has not made any significant difference adding there was already a substantial loss of livestock.

“The needs for humanitarian assistance are increasing faster than the pace of the response, Zenenga told the Security Council, noting, ‘So far, only half of the 3 million people in need of food have been reached.” The UN estimated at least 6.2 million people in Somalia are facing acute food shortage.

International support has helped avert a possible famine, Zenenga said but added the humanitarian response teams were still experiencing $831 million shortfall in line with the 2017 revised Humanitarian Response Plan. So far, a total of $669 million has been received or pledged for the ongoing humanitarian effort, the UN said.

Meanwhile UNSOM has appealed to the UN Security Council to ramp up support for the African Union force, Amisom adding the support must be predictable as the force prepares for a conditions-based draw-down late 2018.

Troops contributing countries have called for sustainable funding and increased troops numbers to reinforce operations against Al-Shabaab before the planned exit. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta told the London Conference last week convening for Somalia that there was need for a surge of troops to 4,000.

Zenenga also appealed to the Council to consider the humanitarian crisis in the country ahead of any offensive operations.

“The current humanitarian crisis should be taken into account; vulnerable populations should be properly protected; and arrangements for “holding and building” recovered areas, including local administrations acceptable to the local communities, should be put in place,” said Zenenga.

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