UN: UN agencies urge scale-up humanitarian support for Somalia

New York, US (PANA) - Following the worsening of an already devastating drought in Somalia, UN agencies have stressed that only a massive and immediate scale-up of humanitarian assistance can help the country avoid falling into another catastrophe.

According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), some 6.2 million people, almost half the country's population are either severely food insecure or in need of livelihood support.

A UN statement issued in New York on Friday, quoted UNICEF Somalia Representative, Mr. Steven Lauwerier, as saying: "Huge numbers of Somalis have come to the end of all their possible resources and are living hand-to-mouth."

He also stressed that "there is only a small window of opportunity to arrest the looming humanitarian crisis and save lives."

He said the situation of children was particularly concerning, noting that, close to one million children are estimated to be malnourished this year, including 185,000 severely malnourished and in need of urgent life-saving support.

According to him, "there are also grave fears that this number could increase to 270,000 over the coming months."

The statement also noted that the ongoing drought and other shocks have left communities that have already been battered by decades of conflict with little to no resources to fall back on, stating that whole villages have lost their crops or seen their livestock die and the prices of water and locally produced food have risen dramatically, and thousands of people are on the move in search of food and water.

It also added that, "the drought has also led to an increase in waterborne diseases with more than 4,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea and cholera this year."

On his part, WFP Country Director Laurent Bukera, said: "Humanitarian assistance has saved lives in the drought-affected north over the past year, but as the crisis spreads we have no time to lose", saying that, "together with partners, the UN agency is moving as quickly as possible to reach people with life-saving support."

The two UN agencies noted that humanitarian access remains conqueringly limited in some drought-affected areas of the south, but that WFP and UNICEF are reinforcing their joint efforts to scale up the response in areas that are accessible, where millions of lives are at risk.

The agencies have been responding together to the drought by providing food and water vouchers to hundreds of thousands across the most affected areas of Somalia as well as nutrition assistance.

The statement further said that, as additional resources are mobilised, the joint response will continue to expand in the most vulnerable regions.

However, with growing needs, more funds are needed. UNICEF and WFP together still require more than US$450 million to provide urgent assistance required in the coming months.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 17Feb2017

17 february 2017 15:45:52

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