Top UN humanitarian official says Somalia ‘not out of the woods yet’ on drought relief

Garowe, Somalia (PANA)   – The top United Nations humanitarian official in Somalia has commended the drought relief and recovery efforts of the authorities in the northern state of Puntland, while cautioning that the current humanitarian crisis was far from over.

“We took stock, together with [Puntland’s] leadership, of the drought response as it has been so far, looking back to what has been a good year in terms of close cooperation and a very successful drought relief effort,” the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, said in Puntland’s capital, Garowe, on Saturday, in the wake of a series of meeting with officials, including the Federal Member State’s President Abdiwali Mohamed Ali.

“At the same time, we talked about the remaining challenges because we are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination,” he added.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Mr. de Clercq – who also serves as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia and the UN Resident Coordinator – was visiting Puntland to meet with security, planning and humanitarian officials from the local government, as well as representatives of civil society organizations, to discuss the current drought response and other challenges in the region.

Speaking on the collective response so far to the drought that has affected Puntland and the rest of Somalia for over five failed rain cycles, Mr. de Clercq said that, while 2017 was a good year in terms of close cooperation to avoid the worst impact of the drought, further effort would be needed.

UNSOM reported on Sunday quoting Mr. de Clercq as saying that, in areas like Sool and Sanaag, there are still massive needs and a strong possibility that famine-type conditions would develop.

The two areas, located on the north-eastern tip of the Horn of Africa, form part of a disputed region claimed by both Puntland and neighbouring ‘Somaliland.’

“The situation is very serious, particularly in Sool and Sanaag. And we have talked about how we can best reach the people in Sool and Sanaag in terms of providing them with the assistance that they deserve that will keep them from being affected by this drought and possibly falling into famine. And we are hopeful that there will be a way forward on this,” Mr. de Clercq said.

Mitigating the effects of the drought and helping the people who have been displaced by it was one of the main topics covered in the UN official’s meeting with President Mohamed Ali. “Our discussion was frank and candid, very fruitful,” the President noted afterwards.

At the end of the visit, which included discussions at the ministries of security and planning, together with Puntland’s disaster management agency, Mr. de Clercq said that it was important to get the right resources to the right place and work with the right partners, such as the Puntland authorities, and to consider longer-term factors.

“We try to address the underlying causes of the crisis, like food insecurity and livestock depletion, and to think of alternatives for people to make a living and to rebuild their lives,” he said.

In 2017, drought-related famine was averted through the efforts of Somalis and their international partners. However, the risk is not yet overcome as there are 5.4 million people in Somalia needing life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Work is being done in all regions, including Puntland, to build and sustain resilience in all communities, especially the populations affected the most by the recurring cycle of drought and famine risk, such as pastoralists, displaced persons and fishing communities.
-0- PANA AR 18Feb2018

18 فبراير 2018 10:38:43




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