The United Nations today launched a $174 million appeal to address the critical humanitarian needs of Somalia, the strife-torn Horn of Africa country where an estimated 1 million people are in need of urgent assistance, including 345,000 in a state of “acute food and livelihood crisis.”
“A generous response from the international donor community will ensure an integrated approach by humanitarian organizations in meeting the needs and building the capacity of Somalia’s most vulnerable communities,” the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, Maxwell Gaylard, said at the launch in Nairobi, Kenya.
Beyond those in “acute crisis,” 200,000 others are classified as “experiencing a humanitarian emergency” and a further 370,000 to 400,000 are internally displaced in the impoverished country, where 14 years of protracted civil war and persistent fragmented conflicts have eroded livelihoods.
Displacement, prolonged drought, flooding, human rights abuses, unemployment, market disruptions and disease outbreaks have torn the socio-economic fabric of society apart too, all contributing to the current grave humanitarian crises.
“I could not stress enough the need and the urgency to provide a safe operating space for humanitarian agencies to reach these people,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Somalia, Francois Lonsény Fall, said, warning that insecurity was blocking relief deliveries and jeopardizing the lives of those in need.
A recent series of serious security incidents, including a wave of assassinations in Mogadishu, the capital, and Kismayo, as well as piracy off the southern coast, has worsened access. Last month, the UN Food Security Analysis Unit issued an early warning alert for southern Somalia indicating that the failed rains and mounting insecurity could drastically increase the number of those in need of immediate aid.
Somalia’s people live in extremely poor conditions. Livelihoods are broadly based on subsistence farming and pastoralism with limited opportunity to earn wages. Infant, child and maternal mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world. One in four Somali children dies before the age of five, and 1,600 Somali women die for every 100,000 live births. Average life expectancy is 48 years. The county has one of the lowest primary school enrolment rates in the world.
The appeal is focused on improving access to education and especially for girls. It also seeks to rectify the underlying cause of child morbidity in the country by improving and increasing access to safe drinking water.