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U.N. warns of dire humanitarian situation in southern Somalia
Saturday, July 14, 2012

The UN humanitarian agency has warned of a looming humanitarian situation in southern Somalia , describing it critical even after some parts of the country emerged from famine in 2011.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said even though a return to famine conditions is not expected, the situation is dire.

“The ability of communities to recover is further undermined by widespread armed clashes and poor security conditions, which continue to force communities to flee their homes, thus disrupting food production and other economic activities,” OCHA said in its humanitarian update for July released in Nairobi on Wednesday.

At the peak of the crisis last year, six parts of southern Somalia were declared famine zones. Millions of Somalis affected by years of drought and conflict still rely on foreign aid. Famine was declared in Somalia from July last year, and by November, parts of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions improved to pre- famine levels.

East Africa, including Somalia , Kenya , Ethiopia and Djibouti have experienced a crippling drought over the past two years but that drought turned into famine only in Somalia mid last year.

Aid groups reduced access to some southern Somali areas because of limitations placed on them by al Qaida allied group, Al-Shabaab militia blamed for landmine and grenade attacks on Kenyan soil.

According to OCHA, worst affected regions are still rated as “Emergency” (Level 4 on the Integrated Security Phase Classification Scale), meaning communities will once again be severely affected as the food security situation is rapidly deteriorating.

It said the 2012 Post-Gu Assessment led by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) is ongoing, with results expected by end-August.

OCHA said rainfall performance in May varied in Somalia as noted in FSNAU’s mid-June climate update.

Northern areas received significant rains, ranging from normal to above normal. Southern and central areas however experienced uneven distribution of rains, with Bardheere, in Gedo region, recording a total of 123 mm of rains.

According to OCHA, parts of Hiraan, Middle Shabelle, Gedo and Middle Juba also recorded depressed rains.

Rains during this period are critical to the harvest, and the harvest in south-central Somalia, the epicenter of last year’s emergency, will be smaller and delayed at least by a month (until August), it said.

“Ongoing military activity is likewise impacting overstretched aid program in affects areas,” it said, in reference to African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia which has launched a major onslaught on Al-Shabaab militants.

It said the June 25 clashes between the allied forces and Al- Shabaab insurgents resulted in the displacement of some 1,000 families, some 50,000 people, from villages in Somalia’s Bal’ad district in Middle Shebelle region, of whom 2,800 had reached Mogadishu by early July while the rest are in villages in the affected area.

Somalia has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process after decades of conflict, with the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions currently implementing a roadmap, devised in September last year.

It spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end on Aug. 20.

Aid agencies have been able to scale up activities in the last few weeks, despite widespread insecurity and restricted access to people in some parts of the country.


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