U.N. Official Warns of Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia

  • by (united nations)
  • Thursday, June 30, 2011
  • Inter Press Service

Somalia has the highest rates of malnutrition in Africa, and 30 percent of children are suffering from global and acute malnutrition. 'The major cause has been the problem of food prices increase. Prices have gone up 270 percent in the past year,'said Bowden. This happens in a country where population is dependent on the marketplace for their survival.

Somalia is enduring a drought that is affecting the whole country, but it still drags the effects of last year's drought. This and international food price rises have created the crisis. 'Large proportions of the population, both urban or rural, are not in the position to meet the food needs, and the levels of distress are increasing throughout the country,' Bowden stated.

To make things worse, the south of Somalia is facing another additional problem. The area is held by Al Shabaab, a rebel group that fights against Somali government forces, which makes access to the area much harder. Bowden claimed that while it is difficult to get food into the area, health and supplementary aid are easier to provide.

Bowden said that his challenge is to increase programmes that will have a fast and successful effect on the region. 'The aim is to make a difference to the economy of the area, that will manage to have an impact on the very high rates of malnutrition and stop the levels of migration that, in themselves, increase people's risk of death through disease and the economic hardships involved in moving from one place to another.'

However, resources are not adequate, Bowden said. 'We have an appeal that is only at the moment 40 percent met; and some of the key sectors that are needed to protect and save the lives of people in Somalia are not addressed at all.'

The consequence is a lack of resources that inhibit the performance of a humanitarian community in a position to do more. Bowden announced the presence of reports from international agencies that state that levels of malnutrition, even among adults, are increasing rapidly. 'Unless we are able to take action now, I think we are likely to see not just migration, but a level of deaths in Somalia that takes us back almost 20 years,' he concluded.

© Inter Press Service (2011) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Where next?