|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7191st Meeting (PM)
Somalia ‘Must Remain a Priority’, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council,
Calling for Urgent Funding to Avert Major Humanitarian Crisis
If urgent funding were not secured immediately, hard-won gains made in Somalia would be reversed, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council today.
“ Somalia must remain a priority for us all,” Valerie Amos stated. Yet, only 19 per cent of a $933 million humanitarian appeal had been funded. With the continuing decline in contributions and the threat by banks to close the Somali money transfer organizations — which were lifelines to millions of Somalis — limited funding was forcing humanitarian agencies to cut back all but the basic interventions. One example given was that of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which, if immediate funding was not secured, would have to suspend primary health-care service to 3 million people. That would result in the death of 50,000 children under the age of 5 from severe malnutrition.
To prevent the country from slipping back into a major humanitarian crisis, an immediate injection of $60 million for the next three months was needed in order to address urgent food, nutrition and health-care needs. The situation was critical, with one in seven children dying before their first birthday and 1 in 18 women dying in childbirth, development indicators that were among the worst in the world. Almost 1 million people required urgent and lifesaving assistance and an additional 2 million were on the margin of food insecurity. Adding to that was the recent Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) alert that a below average harvest was expected in the coming summer months, partly due to two poor rainy seasons.
Acknowledging the impact that financial support had on humanitarian service, she pointed out that, as a result of funding received so far this year, more than 1 million people had received food and livelihood assistance. Further, almost 100,000 children had been treated for malnutrition, and 400,000 had been given access to water and sanitation interventions. Another 500,000 were receiving basic health services and a “massive and well-coordinated” vaccination campaign had contained the 2013 polio outbreak.
Nonetheless, humanitarian workers were still facing tremendous challenges, she stressed. Further compounding circumstances was the ongoing military offensive and the new Al-Shabaab tactic of blocking major supply routes and encirclement of newly recovered areas. Those tactics had not only prevented commercial activity and access to humanitarian assistance, but had displaced 70,000, significantly disrupting the planting season. Because of the unsafe conditions, only Afgooye and Baidoa and four of the newly recovered towns had been assessed, confirming the limited access to food, water, primary health care and nutrition supplies.
Al-Shabaab’s activities, she went on to say, were continuing to hamper aid delivery, forcing agencies to engage costly air operations. More so, the group was, through “bold” attacks, targeting Government officials, international organization and humanitarian workers. Also inhibiting humanitarian agencies’ efforts were local and regional administrations’ “unpredictable bureaucratic” actions, including arbitrary taxation, registration fees and the need to obtain approval for staff hiring and choice of national partners.
Calling on the Council to take action and ensure immediate funding, she asked, among others, that Somali asylum seekers, refugees and migrants be ensured protection, and that efforts be made with banks and Somali money transfer operators to put in place a transitional mechanism until a proper financial system was established. Failure to intervene on all aspects of the challenges facing Somalia would not only undermine the peace and State-building gains of the last two years, but would lead to further crises, she stressed, adding that no one wanted to see a repeat of the famine in 2011.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 3:15 p.m.
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