21 July 2010 As Somalia remains in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, it is vital to ensure adequate funding to assist the 3.2 million people – or more than 40 per cent of the population – who rely on international aid, a senior United Nations aid official stressed today.
UN agencies and their partners have so far received only 56 per cent of the $600 million needed to fund critical areas such as health, water and sanitation, nutrition and livelihood support in Somalia, which is recovering from drought and years of chaos and is also in the throes of ongoing violence.
“My major concern at this time of the year is that there is a renewed emphasis on ensuring that we do address the funding gaps in Somalia to help us to sustain the achievements that can continue to be made in one of the world’s most difficult and acute humanitarian crises,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator for Somalia.
He told a news conference in New York that the situation in the Horn of Africa nation is characterized by severe child malnutrition, loss of livestock and livelihoods, as well as ongoing displacement owing to continued clashes between Government forces and Islamist militant groups.
The conflict has led to Somalia being one of the countries with the highest number of uprooted people in the world – an estimated 1.4 million displaced within the country and almost 595,000 living as refugees in neighbouring countries.
“Conflict is the driving cause behind displacement and most of it comes from Mogadishu,” he said, noting that 20,000 people were displaced in the capital in June, and an estimated 200,000 people have been displaced from the city this year.
In addition, fighting in Mogadishu since March this year has led to more than 3,000 conflict-related casualties.
“What I genuinely hope is that we try to find some way of reducing the impact of this conflict on the civilian population and all parties need to find more peaceful means of settling their disputes,” he said, adding that where that is not possible, to at least avoid the considerable collateral damage on civilians.
Despite the ongoing crisis, Mr. Bowden noted that the situation in Somalia “isn’t all bad news,” although it is one of the most complicated humanitarian situations the UN is facing.
Some major achievements include keeping the country free of polio amid a resurgence of the disease in a number of other African countries. This is thanks to the provision of clean water to 1.3 million people, as well as vaccination campaigns that were carried out, even in volatile areas.
“We are able to make progress in terms of managing humanitarian operations in extremely difficult circumstances, which include control of large parts of the country by rebel groups and active conflict in other parts,” he noted.
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