New York, US (PANA) - In spite of the progress made one year after the declaration of famine in parts of southern Somalia, some 3.8 million people there are still in need of assistance, the UN said in a statement on Saturday.
The organization also appealed to countries to provide funding for humanitarian aid to
The statement quoted the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia,
Mark Bowden, as stating that last year, they were able to halt the downward spiral
into starvation for hundreds of thousands of people.
It said famine conditions had not been present since January this year.
However, Bowden said, the humanitarian situation in Somalia remained critical with
2.51 million people in urgent need of aid and a further 1.29 million at risk of sliding
back into crisis.
Bowden said there had been progress largely on the humanitarian front due to the
exceptional harvest at the beginning of the year and innovative approaches to food
security, which addressed changes in world food prices and obstacles to access people.
"However, the progress made since last year could easily slip backwards if high levels of assistance are not sustained."
The UN official also said humanitarian actors needed funds to provide the most
vulnerable Somalis with urgently needed assistance, such as food, clean water,
sanitation facilities and medical care.
"These funds are also needed to build sustainable livelihoods for people who have
few or no resources after years of drought and conflict, thereby increasing their
resilience to future crises," he said.
In a related development, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stressed
that the situation in Somalia remains critical as reduced rains this year will lead
to a below-average to poor harvest in many parts of the south.
"Continued humanitarian support is of utmost importance," said the FAO’s
Head of Operations in Somalia, Luca Alinovi.
He added that there is also a need to build social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable if and when drought hits again in the future.
FAO said it had been helping farmers and herders build long-term resilience not
just through the immediate provision of cash but also by providing improved seeds
and fertilizers, as well as vaccinations for livestock to increase production.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that it had been working on
long-term interventions to build resilience and address the needs of the most
vulnerable, including nearly one million children who have been treated for
malnutrition across the Horn of Africa.
UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Elhadj As Sy,
said traditional coping mechanisms were being stretched to the limit for many
"We need to preserve our hard-won gains, and invest in children today to
prevent similar crises from happening again in the future," the UNICEF official
PANA learned that UN agencies and humanitarian non-governmental organizations
are urging donors to provide US$576 million to address the population’s needs
over the next six months.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
the revised appeal for the entire year is US$1.16 billion, half of which has been
On 20 July 2011, famine was declared in southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle,
after the regions were hit by one of the worst droughts in decades. A month later,
the famine spread to four more regions in the country, including the capital,
The six-month crisis caused thousands of deaths and required a massive
humanitarian aid programme, before the famine was declared officially over
on 2 February 2012.
The humanitarian situation has been complicated by the broader context on the ground.
The militant group known as the Al-Shabaab has denied direct access for a range
of international humanitarian organizations to those people most in need in parts
of the country under its control.
Al-Shabaab has been engaged in warfare with Somalia’s military and the
UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) over territory.
-0- PANA AA/MA 21July2012