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Somalia: UN says humanitarian situation worsening faster than expected

Somalia: UN says humanitarian situation worsening faster than expected

The humanitarian situation in Somalia is deteriorating faster than expected, owing to an unusually harsh dry season, rising insecurity and soaring inflation rates, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

The UN has revised upwards the number of those living in a state of humanitarian emergency from 315,000 to 425,000, and the number of newly displaced people from 705,000 to 745,000.

The total number of those needing assistance in the country is estimated to be around 1.8 million, but that figure could increase to 2 million once current assessments are concluded, OCHA said in a news release.

Somalia has experienced an extremely dry season from January to March with high temperatures and unusually dry winds. The dry conditions have also affected other countries in the region, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and parts of Kenya.

In addition, the country – like many others – has witnessed a dramatic increase in food prices over the past year. The prices of locally produced maize and sorghum have increased by 300 to 400 per cent, while imported foods such as rice and vegetable oil have increased by some 150 per cent. At the same time, the Somali shilling has depreciated by 65 per cent.

Along with the dry weather and rise in food prices, there has also been a diarrhoea outbreak in the Sanaag region, which has claimed seven lives among the 300 cases recorded since 10 March.

Meanwhile, further clashes were reported last week between Ethiopian/Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and anti-Government elements in many parts of south-central Somalia.

Deteriorating security in recent months has made it more difficult for aid workers to assist those in need in the strife-torn East African nation, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.