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U.N. Says Somalia's New Government at Risk


UNITED NATIONS - Somalia's fragile new government risks collapse unless donors contribute millions of dollars to alleviate drought that has wiped out half the nation's livestock, a U.N. official said Tuesday.

The entire Horn of Africa is in the grips of the worst drought in a decade but Somalia is in particular danger of slipping into full-blown famine, said Christian Balslev-Olesen, the acting humanitarian coordinator for the nation.

The United Nations is asking for $326 million for Somalia. Without help, up to 80 percent of the nation's livestock could die and southern areas could see 10,000-12,000 human deaths each month, Balslev-Olesen said.

The crisis has gotten so severe that it could jeopardize the country's nascent government, Somalia's first since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

"If we cannot deliver on the humanitarian situation it's going to backfire on the political process," Balslev-Olesen said.

Somalia's transitional parliament held its first session inside Somalia in late February. However, it exerts little control and the nation is almost completely lawless.

Balslev-Olesen accused the international community of ignoring Somalia in the years since Siad Barre's ouster and the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers in 1995.

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