UN warns it lacks access to 500,000 hungry Somalis

7 August 2009

Lack of access has prevented the United Nations from delivering food to 500,000 of its planned 3.3 million beneficiaries in Somalia over the past month, principally in Mogadishu and the south of the battle-scarred country.

At the same time, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) will face critical shortfalls as of October and urgently requires 209,000 metric tons of food worth $208 million to cover the current aid pipeline until the end of March 2010, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.

As of the end of July, the Somalia consolidated appeal was 52 per cent funded at $438 million. In July, WFP delivered about 33,725 metric tons of food, 83 per cent of the planned tonnage, to 2.8 million beneficiaries in south-central Somalia and Puntland and Somaliland in the north. Lack of access and minor pipeline shortfalls cut off delivery from the full target of 3.3 million, OCHA said.

Mogadishu and the south have been shattered by an upsurge of attacks from Al-Shabaab and other militant Islamic groups against the provisional Government in a country that has had no functioning central authority and has been riven by factional fighting for nearly two decades.

WFP this week completed nutrition screening of vulnerable groups in Afmadow district in the Lower Juba region in southern Somalia, identifying 4,500 people, most of them children under the age of five, pregnant and lactating women in need of supplementary feeding. The agency will distribute 190 metric tons of food to them. Further screening is ongoing in the nearby Dobley district. In August, WFP will assist some 70,000 people with supplementary feeding in Somalia.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), meanwhile, has completed the construction of a two-kilometre network of pipes, tanks and kiosks to provide safe drinking water for nearly 17,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in Kaa Shiqal camp in Banadir district, near Mogadishu.

More than 10,500 people, mainly newly arrived IDPs, will benefit from 200 newly constructed latrines in IDP camps to the north and south of Mogadishu, OCHA reported.

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