|SOMALIA: Some 3.5 million could need food aid by end of year
NAIROBI, 2 May 2008 (IRIN) - Faced with a worsening humanitarian crisis,
3.5 million people - nearly half of Somalia's population - may need food
aid by the end of the year, a food security analysis has warned.
The Somali situation was deteriorating fast due to rapidly rising food
prices, an abnormally harsh dry season and a delayed start to the main
April-June rains, the
Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) of the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) said in a statement.
"The number of people in need of assistance [right now] has increased to
2.6 million people... an increase of more than 40 percent since January,"
it said. "This increase is mainly due to the addition of 600,000 urban
The number of pastoralists in crisis and of internally displaced persons
fleeing clashes in Mogadishu, has also increased.
For the first time, the FSAU said, the 600,000 urban poor (20 percent of
the total urban population) were facing an acute food and livelihood
crisis and a
humanitarian emergency, as they struggled to cope with rising food and
basic commodity prices.
Prices of both imported and locally produced cereals had increased 110-375
percent in the last year. The record high prices were also forcing parents
to remove children from schools because of lack of funds.
"Despite all these coping strategies," Cindy Holleman, FAO's chief
technical adviser to FSAU, said: "Many urban poor households do not have
enough money to pay for their basic minimum needs, with shortfalls of
10-30 percent of the total cost."
The drought was also becoming more severe in parts of southern and central
Somalia, pushing more pastoralists into crisis, especially in the regions
of Bakool, Hiran and Central.
Conditions in coastal areas of the Shabelle Region and pastoral areas in
northern Somalia - Sool, Nugal and Hawd [Togdheer, Somaliland] - were also
Abdi Haji Gobdon, the Somali government spokesman, told IRIN the
government had appealed to aid agencies to redouble their efforts to avert
"this unfolding catastrophe".
The government, he said, was determined to improve the security situation
in the country to allow easier access to those in need and facilitate the
work of aid workers. It was also dealing with the printing of fake Somali
currency which was contributing to inflation. "The government will soon be
printing its own currency, which will be the only legal tender."
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]