Humanitarian situation in Somalia in serious decline as security worsens, warns UN chief
The deteriorating security situation in Somalia poses a serious threat to the delivery of humanitarian aid to millions of desperate people in the Horn of Africa country, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned in his latest report to the Security Council today.
Somalia, which has not had a functioning national government since 1991, has been plagued by fighting and humanitarian suffering for decades, and despite recent peace accords, a surge in violence this year has driven the number of people forced to flee their homes to at least one million.
“The humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate drastically,” the Secretary-General said in his report, adding that “the number of people in need of livelihood and humanitarian support has increased by 77 per cent, from 1.8 million to 3.2 million people since January 2008.”
The ratio of acutely malnourished children under the age of five currently stands at one in six, and continues to rise with the situation exacerbated by drought and high food prices, as well as the collapse of the local currency and continuing instability.
This has left many Somali families without the means to afford even the most basic sources of survival, such as food, water and shelter.
“The level of insecurity and the direct targeting of humanitarian workers render the delivery of humanitarian assistance extremely difficult,” said the report.
“Since the beginning of 2008, 29 aid workers have been killed, 19 have been kidnapped and 10 are still held captive,” it added.
Despite the increasing security threats, aid agencies distributed some 84,000 tons of food to over 2 million people from June to August, with another 150,000 tons of food aid is planned to be shipped between October and the end of the year.
But Mr. Ban warned that without $98 million of funding for food aid until March 2009 and naval escorts to protect UN World Food Programme (WFP) shipments, the entire humanitarian response in Somalia is jeopardized.
The Secretary-General said that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) deserves international support and encouragement. He added that it will be imperative to tie together AMISOM to the ongoing anti-piracy operation and an envisaged multinational force in a coordinated effort to address both the consequences and the sources of lawlessness in Somalia.
As current conditions are not conducive to a UN peacekeeping operation, he appeals to Member States to pledge troops, funds and equipment for a multinational force.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General voiced concern at new acts of piracy off the Somali coast this week amid reports of a series of attacks or attempting hijackings in recent days in a region already notorious for the practice.
Mr. Ban “reiterates his condemnation of all acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, wherever they occur,” according to the statement, and “strongly supports efforts by Member States to address this scourge.” the statement said.
The Secretary-General added that he is working closely with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), NATO, the European Union and others to ensure that international efforts to combat piracy are better coordinated.