UN refugee agency launches $48 million appeal for Somalis fleeing violence

UN refugee agency launches $48 million appeal for Somalis fleeing violence

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Hoping to gain access to more Somalis who have been forced to flee recent violence in their country, the United Nations refugee agency has appealed for $48 million to alleviate their plight.

Hoping to gain access to more Somalis who have been forced to flee recent violence in their country, the United Nations refugee agency has appealed for $48 million to alleviate their plight.

The funds will be used to provide “badly needed assistance for newly arrived Somali refugees fleeing renewed conflict in Somalia, and people displaced inside Somalia,” Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a press briefing in Geneva.

She estimated that the number of Somalis in the region who will receive assistance from UNHCR under the appeal will rise from the current 312,000 to 478,000 by end 2008.

“The rise in numbers assisted is partly because UNHCR considers that access for aid delivery may improve reaching more internally displaced persons inside Somalia, especially in the south and central areas of the country,” Ms. Pagonis said, citing estimates that the total number of people displaced may also rise to around 528,000 by end 2008 from 500,000 now.

The agency will use the funds to help internally displaced Somalis and newly arrived Somali refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti. They have been fleeing the conflict between the Islamist Courts Union and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

The appeal, launched Monday, is separate from UNHCR's annual programme to assist the 450,000 Somali refugees who fled previous turmoil in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today said that recent violence in Mogadishu and the shutting down of the Bakara market – the most important in Somalia – are hampering efforts to assist thousands of displaced Somalis living in deplorable conditions.

UNICEF continues to distribute water, food and medicines to those in need while maintaining its chlorination programme, agency spokesperson Veronique Taveau said at a press briefing in Geneva.

Next week, UNICEF and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will launch a mine risk awareness campaign, she added.