PO Box 61950 Nairobi

Tel: 254-2- 441225

Fax: 254-2- 442438

E-mail:sacb@undp.org

Somalia Aid Coordination Body

Food Security & Rural Development Sectoral Committee

News Release

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AID URGENTLY NEEDED TO

 PROTECT THOUSANDS OF LIVES IN SOUTHERN SOMALIA

 

 

 

16 October 2001

 

Nairobi – More than 450,000 people face a serious humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia, following the failure of the main Gu season (May - July) rains in key food producing areas. The widespread drought has left thousands of families without food, and urgent assistance is now needed to prevent major loss of life.

 

Particular concern is being raised in Gedo region where NGOs are reporting a shocking rise in the number of malnourished women, children and displaced people. The situation is only marginally less acute in Bay and Bakol regions.

 

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, and repeating appeals already made by various agencies over recent months, United Nations agencies, NGOs and donor partners of the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB) today made an urgent appeal for immediate food aid and additional health services to save lives.

 

“We need to provide assistance to poor families immediately, otherwise it will be too late to protect their lives,” said Eddie Boyle, Chairman of the SACB Food Security and Rural Development Committee. “Over 40,000 MT of food is urgently required to prevent a major humanitarian crisis.”

 

Action Contre la Faim (ACF), based in Luuq town, and running the only feeding centre in Gedo region, warned that attendance levels have increased five-fold in the past two months. Over 4,300 patients are now receiving supplementary and therapeutic treatment, and the agency screens 200 new persons for admission every day. However, given the overall food deficit in the area, recovery rates are poor and rural populations are crowding into urban centres. In addition, the UNICEF supported maternal and child health center in  Baidoa has seen a rapid increase in the number of severely malnourished children screened since July.

 

The failure of the rains has already led to acute food shortages, water scarcity, lack of pasture and a rapid deterioration in livestock conditions. Many young men have already moved out of the region with their cattle and camels in search of water for their livestock. This has left women, children, elderly and displaced populations behind with rapidly dwindling food supplies and few sources of income. The situation is exacerbated by the continuing closure of the Kenya-Somalia border, and the sharp devaluation of the Somali Shilling.

 

The humanitarian crisis in southern Somalia will continue to worsen if, as is now widely expected, the current deyr rains also fail.  There is also concern that Somalia’s annual cholera outbreak will take an even heavier toll than normal, if these conditions prevail.

 

CARE has reported a major increase in the number of undernourished people in Gedo region and is now increasing its programme to assist some 240,000 people in the region. CARE has appealed for 22,000 MT of food aid to meet humanitarian needs over the next year.

 

WFP has similarly initiated a very significant increase in its support programme in Bay and Bakol regions, and is preparing to assist over 200,000 people over the next few months. However, available food stocks will soon be exhausted. WFP had issued an appeal for 20,000 MT of food aid in July 2001.  To date, only 4,300 MT has been pledged.

 

SACB partners, stressing the urgency of the situation, are making an appeal for immediate support to CARE and WFP food relief programmes. In addition, the establishment of additional health and supplementary feeding programmes is essential in Gedo Region, including services in rural areas to reduce the dangerous concentration of vulnerable groups in urban areas.

 

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For further information, please contact:

 

Eddie Boyle, Chairman of the SACB Food Security and Rural Development Committee, Tel. (254 2) 714 146.