One million Somalis face food shortage

Nearly a million people, including displaced civilians, face food shortages in Somalia, a shattered African nation that is struggling to emerge from 14 years of interclan fighting, the United Nations says.

    The country has been hit by war and drought

    The latest edition of the UN's monthly report on the humanitarian situation in Somalia said "almost one million people - including 370,000-400,000 (internally displaced persons) IDPs - were found to be in urgent need of assistance will be the priority target group for the humanitarian response in 2006".

    Of the figure, around 345,000 people are in a state of livelihood crisis while 197,000 are experiencing a humanitarian emergency.

    "Particular attention will go towards assisting 169,000 people who are experiencing a humanitarian emergency along the Juba Valley," a southern region beset by high morbidity and malnutrition rates, chronic food insecurity, crop failure, insecurity and flooding, the report said.

    War-ravaged nation

    In May, the US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network(FEWS NET) said a delay in the April-June rainy season affected parts of the south, the country's breadbasket that accounts for more than 50% of Somalia's cereal production.

    In some parts, the rate of malnutrition is as high as 20%, according to the UN report.

    About 43% of the $164 million appealed to help Somalia by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has been received, compared to 27% that had been covered by the same time last year.

    Somalia, a nation of up to 10 million people, has been without a functioning government since the 1991 ouster of Mohamed Siad Barre plunged the Horn of Africa country into anarchy and violence.

    Insecurity and attacks on aid workers in the country have hampered swift delivery of humanitarian supplies.

    A transitional government which relocated from exile in Kenya in June, is currently based in the Somali provincial town of Jowhar, arguing that Mogadishu, epicentre of the violence, is too unsafe.

    SOURCE: AFP


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