UN: '1m Somalis at risk of starvation'

New York, US (PANA) - Despite some political and security gains, the humanitarian situation in Somalia has deteriorated, with more than three million people now in need of assistance, including over one million Somalis who do not have enough to eat, UN envoy in Somalia Nicholas Kay has warned.

Briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Somalia on Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York, Mr. Kay said the number of those facing starvation is up 20 per cent compared to six months ago.

"By the end of August, twice as many households were assisted per month with food aid.
Over 300 metric tons of supplies for tens of thousands of people have been delivered by
air due to the lack of secure access to recovered areas.

"But this falls short of needs on the ground. Air cargo flights simply cannot deliver the quantities required and secure road access is essential," he said.

Mr. Kay stressed the need for critical funding to expand humanitarian operations in the country,
saying "international support must be geared up food security, nutrition, health, water,
sanitation and hygiene services".

He also told the Council that military gains must be consolidated through stabilisation, saying while Al-Shabaab has suffered significant reverses and the political process has moved forward, Somalia’s challenges remain significant.

The envoy also said urgent and coherent action by the Federal Government and international partners is needed in security, development, political and humanitarian fields, saying: "Women and youth must participate in the process of reconciliation and the establishment of interim regional administrations."

Mr. Kay said he hoped for a "new map" of a federal Somalia by the end of the year and also called for faster progress in creating two key constitutionally mandated bodies: the National Independent Electoral Commission and the Boundaries and Federation Commission.

"I remain particularly concerned about the risk of political in-fighting," he said, pointing out that twice in the last twelve months this has led to bureaucratic paralysis.

He also said Somalia’s political institutions, including the Federal Parliament, should focus on establishing the processes that will pave the way to peace and stability.

Additionally, human rights remains a major concern, he said, informing the Council on the recent arrests of journalists, who are yet to face trial, and the closure of media outlets, as well as the increasing use of capital punishment.

Meanwhile, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Horn of Africa Philippe Lazzarini has said 50,000 children in Somalia could die unless they are given immediate assistance.

"We have more than one million people who are in need of urgent assistance. Among them we have 250,000 children. And among them, we have 50,000 children who are on the doorstep of death, if no assistance is provided now.

"A drought has worsened an already grim humanitarian situation in the country which has experienced more than two decades of insecurity. The Al Shabaab terrorist group has been driven out of a number of cities but has blocked food supply routes in some parts of the country," he said.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 15Oct2014

15 october 2014 08:45:37

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