Somalia–Desperate Call to the World: “Put Lives before Politics”

Human Wrongs Watch

Twenty aid agencies issued an open letter on 21 September urging the international community to “put people’s lives before politics if [we are] to stand any chance of aiding people suffering from the famine in Somalia”.

Credit: UN

The agencies said that while aid was getting through in many areas, “it is not at the scale needed to address the enormity of the crisis and hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance”.

They warned that with the coming rains expected to bring the threat of deadly disease, restrictions were still preventing the rapid boost in aid that was so desperately needed to save lives, according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The letter urged the international community to change its approach to Somalia “and enhance diplomatic engagement with the parties to the conflict, to ensure the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid”.

The number of aid agencies operating in the country has risen sharply in recent months, but “we are receiving only around 30 to 40 percent of the food needed”, Abdullahi Shirwa, head of Somalia’s National Disaster Management Agency told OCHA’s humanitarian news and analysis service IRIN.

Lack of Proper Delivery Mechanisms…

Although aid agencies were scaling up assistance to tens of thousands in Mogadishu and parts of southern Somalia, Shirwa said these attempts were being hampered by the lack of proper delivery mechanisms.

“We don’t have the roads, the transport capacity [or] the human resources [to deliver aid] and insecurity in parts of the country is an issue of concern,” Shirwa said….

And of Proper Planning By Aid Agencies

He said that lack of proper planning by aid agencies, the constant movement of people and not enough food supplies were all contributing to the delay in reaching the needy.

“In some camps the health situation is better than the food situation, while in others the food situation is better than health and sanitation.

“We should have started planning for this much earlier, maybe May. We are all still catching up.”

Ahmed Adam, country director for the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), told IRIN his group was working to improve coordination among the organizations under OIC and with agencies outside the umbrella of the OIC.

He said the OIC would cooperate with any agency, “because we are all working towards one goal; saving lives”.

Aid Gaps: Only 32% for Four Million People

OCHA-Somalia said aid agencies reported in August they had reached 1.3 million people, “which would be 32 percent of the four million people currently in need”, said Roberta Russo, a spokeswoman.

According to OCHA, there are at least 30 humanitarian agencies working in Mogadishu and more than 60 in southern Somalia.

Meanwhile, the UN estimates that four million Somalis need assistance, mostly in south-central Somalia, which has been the hardest hit by famine and drought.

Living in Terrible Conditions

Adan Abdi Adan, a medical worker in Eil Waq, said many of the displaced were already weakened by the drought and living in terrible conditions, according to IRIN.

“Many of the children are suffering from respiratory diseases and diarrhoea and hunger-related diseases,” he said, adding that access to healthcare in Eil Waq was minimal, “but now they are in areas where there is nothing”.

Mohamed Xirsi Dheere, an elder, said the community was coping and supporting one another; “the problem is reaching some of the displaced”.

Dheere said the UN World Food Programme had provided food rations to some of the people “but only to those that could be reached”.

“It is the uncertainty about the security situation that is the root cause of our problem.” (Human Wrongs Watch).

Also read:

Somalia? Which Somalia? Facts About Everybody’s–Nobody’s Land

Life Ends in Somalia

Droughts Do Not Happen Overnight

Every One Spends 236 Dollars On Weapons; The Life Of An African Child Is Worth Just 16 !

UN reports:

2011 Human Wrongs Watch

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