The top United Nations relief official for the Horn of Africa arrived in Somalia today on the final stage of a weeklong tour, urging donors to be flexible as the aid community works on carrying out longer-term programmes in the faction-torn country, where some 2.1 million people urgently need food aid and other support this year.
In Baidoa, where the Somali parliament is now meeting, Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa Kjell Magne Bondevik called for increased security and access for humanitarian workers to deliver aid in a country which has lacked a functioning central government ever since the collapse of President Muhammad Siad Barre's regime 15 years ago.
UN agencies, especially the World Food Programme (WFP), have been hindered in the humanitarian activities by pirates off the coast and attacks on land, often having to take time- and fund-consuming detours to bring in supplies to a population that is suffering from its worst drought in a decade.
In March, the UN almost doubled its appeal for humanitarian aid Somalia to more than $300 million.
Mr. Bondevik, a former Norwegian Prime Minister appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as Special Humanitarian Envoy in February, has already visited Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Just last week, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that over 15 million people were at risk of losing their livelihoods, with 8 million of them in need of emergency food aid and supplies, due to the severe drought.