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Somalia on verge of humanitarian crisis: UN

Nairobi : Somalia could experience massive humanitarian crises against a backdrop of dwindling funds to support life-saving interventions, a United Nations relief official for Somalia said Monday.

Philippe Lazzarini, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said in Nairobi that Somalia risks drifting into a humanitarian crisis due to a fragile food situation, a spike in diseases and insecurity, Xinhua reported.

“The humanitarian needs in Somalia remain vast based on credible assessment on the ground. An estimated two million people are grappling with food stress, malnutrition and communicable diseases,” said Lazzarini.

He warned that the humanitarian crises experienced in 2011 could be repeated in the absence of urgent interventions.

Relief agencies sounded warning of severe food and water crises in Somalia in November last year.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requested member states and donors to provide 933 million dollars to support life saving interventions in Somalia.

Lazzarini disclosed that donors have so far provided a partly 170 million US dollars.

“We are facing a significant resource gap that has undermined life-saving programs like provision of food, water, sanitation and health,” Lazzarini said.

Somalia remains an epicentre of humanitarian tragedies fuelled by insecurity, climate shocks and broken infrastructure.

Lazzarini regretted that the response to Somalia’s crises is negligible as the international community diverts its attention to new humanitarian catastrophes in South Sudan, Syria and Central Africa Republic.

“Somalia is among the five top countries in the world with the highest child malnutrition rates. One in seven children under the age of five is acutely malnourished. Somalia mothers have the second highest death rate in the world after Chad,” said Lazzarini.

He noted that the one million internally displaced persons in Somalia have endured appalling living conditions due to inadequate access to water, shelter, education and basic hygiene.

The food situation in Somalia will worsen in the coming months based on early warning alerts issued by relief agencies.

“We need a minimum of 60 million US dollars now to avoid an emergency in the coming weeks. These funds are needed to treat 50,000 children from acute malnutrition, transport goods by road and air, avail food assistance and seeds for the next harvest season,” Lazzarini added.