First Published: 2005-05-19

Continued food shortage threatens Somalia

Famine monitor warns of continued food shortage in Somalia if late rains occur in southern region.


Middle East Online

About a million people are in need of humanitarian support

NAIROBI - A United States-funded famine monitoring group on Thursday warned of continued food shortage in Somalia unless it rains in the country's breadbasket southern region.

Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), which is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), said about a million people were in need of humanitarian support in the Horn of Africa country.

FEWS NET said the April-June rainy season had been delayed in parts of the agricultural regions of southern Somalia which account for more than 50 percent of the country's cereal produce.

"Of particular concern are the Shabelle Valley and parts of the Juba riverine area, where the start of the season was delayed, and crop germination has been poor," the group said in a statement received by AFP in Nairobi.

"About 50 percent of the country's annual cereal production comes from these regions, and unless late rains occur, the country will likely face further shortages of staple food," it added.

Of the 164 million dollars (122 million euros) appealed for to help Somalia by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), only eight percent (12.7 million dollars) has so far been provided.

"In the south, clan conflicts in parts of Bakol-and-Bay and Gedo regions displaced civilians and limited humanitarian access. Malnutrition rates remain high in both north Gedo and the Juba riverine areas (17.2 percent and 19.5 percent respectively) with high child mortality rates," the group said.

"However, despite the availability of resources, food aid agencies were not able to provide relief food to 136,000 people who are facing humanitarian emergency in these areas due to insecurity and access problems," FEWS NET added.

Somalia has not had a recognised government for more than a decade since dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991 and the Horn of Africa country plunged into clan warfare.

Insecurity and attack of aid workers in the country of up to 10 million people have hampered swift delivery of humanitarian supplies.


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