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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Somali drought worsening, driving herders with livestock into capital, UN says

21 January 2011

The drought is worsening in many parts of strife-torn Somalia, with herders reported to be moving into Mogadishu, the capital, with their livestock for the first time ever due to lack of pasture and water, the United Nations reported today. 

In the south-western Gedo region, where the situation is reportedly critical, water, food and medical aid are said to be the priority needs for the drought-affected population, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The Horn of Africa nation, which has not had a functioning central government since 1991 and has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, is already facing a dire humanitarian crisis in which 3.2 million people, more than 40 per cent of the population, is in need of aid.

According to field and media reports, many people are arriving on the outskirts of Mogadishu every day, mainly from Middle and Lower Shabelle regions. The exact number of those displaced by the drought is not yet available but recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports put the number at 12,000 at least. Some families have started selling their assets to get money for transport to refugee camps in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia.

An inter-agency assessment is to be conducted in the southwest part of Mogadishu to assess humanitarian needs, including the number of people affected and priority areas of response.

In response to the increased needs for both the host community and people displaced by drought as well as continued conflicts in the central regions, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has scaled up its aid, adding 105,400 additional displaced and nearly 20,000 new beneficiaries from host communities for the January food distribution.

WFP is currently targeting some 2.5 million people for food aid across Somalia, although 625,000 of those are in areas where operations are currently suspended due to pressure from Al-Shabaab Islamist militants in the south. In 2009, WFP reached 3.3 million people in Somalia with food supplies.
Source: UN News Centre

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