Monday, 10 January 2011

UN calls for humanitarian access as drought hits Somalia

NAIROBI (Sh. M. Network) – The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mr.Mark Bowden, has expressed concern about the unfolding drought situation in Somalia and has called for humanitarian access to the most affected areas.

The 2010 short rains (Deyr season – October to December) failed in most parts of Somalia. Since Somalia ishighly rainfall dependent, a further deterioration in the humanitarian situation is expected in the comingmonths. Two million people already depend on humanitarian emergency assistance and with the current dry season, the number is likely to increase.

Mr. Bowden described the task facing the humanitarian community as enormous given current access constraints in many parts of south central Somalia.

'I am deeply concerned about the current drought situation in Somalia. Somalia is already in the grips of a chronic catastrophe, the prediction we made late last year about the below-normal rainfalls due La Niña weather conditions is now a reality. We need to act fast to put in place the mitigation measures that will help us to avert a possible disaster,' said Mr. Bowden.

The impact of the failed Deyr season is already evident. Water supplies have dwindled, cereal prices have increased, and livestock deaths are being reported in some areas. Malnutrition rates in south Somalia are already increasing. A recent survey in Juba indicates rates of 30% acute malnutrition which is double the threshold used to release emergency assistance. Although the drought situation has affected the majority of the country, some regions have been in crisis for the past three years. These include Hiraan, Sanaag,

Galgaduud, Mudug and Bakool regions while others such as Sool, Gedo and Juba regions are now emerging as areas of concern.

The priority sectors identified for immediate interventions are Livestock, Agriculture, Nutrition and Water/Sanitation. The Food Assistance sector is ready to scale up distributions but will face a pipeline break in food supplies in late March 2011.

'Initially US$4.5 million has been earmarked from the UN Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) for emergency drought response in most regions affected by the devastating dry spell,' said Mr Bowden.

Humanitarian access to Somalia’s most vulnerable populations remains critical, particularly to those in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection in the south central part of the country. Mr. Bowden urged all parties to Somalia’s conflicts to grant access to vulnerable communities.

'The increasing threat of hunger and disease caused by the drought calls for a collective effort by all parties in Somalia to increase and facilitate access for a broader range of humanitarian actions. I call upon all those who are in a position to improve access to lend their support at this critical time,' he said.

Source: Kuna News Agency

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