Now we turn to Somalia where the Transitional Federal Government voted Thursday to extend its mandate by three years. Somalia was supposed to hold elections and vote on a new constitution later this year, but the extension indicates that will be delayed. The renewed mandate was slammed by the US and UN which, along with African Union troops, are propping up the transitional government. Somalia’s capital, much of which is controlled by militants, is often the scene of violence. Earlier this week, dozens were injured and 15 people killed. Adrian Edwards is a spokesperson with the United Nations.
“This was the worst incident in Mogadishu so far this year, although sadly the Somali capital is no stranger to indiscriminate violence. Last year hundreds of Somalis were killed. According to available UN figures, at least 7,600 people reported weapons-related injuries in Mogadishu – an average of more than 20 wounded a day, and making this the worst year in a decade for civilian casualties. One in five of those injured was a child. The Somali capital is without doubt one of the most deadly cities anywhere.”
According to the UN, one and a half million civilians are displaced inside the country and an estimated 600,000 have fled the country. The country is also experiencing its worst drought in years, and the number of people without adequate food and water is growing. Mohammed Yusuf reports from Nairobi.
The drought has affected almost all of Somalia and nearly a 1/2 million people don’t have access to enough food and are in desperate need of aid.
Grainne Moloney is the head of the Food Security and Nutritional Analysis Unit. She says their biggest area of concern is crop production, increase in water prices and local cereals.
“Normally the dire season is less important to them than the long rains, however it can produce up to 35% of the annual serials production in the country what we have seen this year with the failure of rains had on 20% of the normal production was produced however given we had very and strong pumper harvest six months ago, when we combine both production we really looking at the average cereal production of the whole country.”
Southern Somalia is the most affected region, and virtually no aid reaching communities. Aid groups have been hampered in this region after the militant group Al Shabab banned them.
Moloney says despite the challenges drought stricken Somalis are facing, they are not passive and are adapting to the crisis.
“Different parts of the country receives different level of assistance of course one of the main strength of the Somali community is the level of social support and remittances either locally or from diaspora overseas, so that’s a very strong coping strategy for these population and they will also migrate to areas in search of water, pasture but this does unfortunately have negative impact on household it reduces the level of access to milk for the mother and children, the mothers who might be left home will have to go further to look for water, for food so we are seeing increasing malnutrition in the areas affected by this.”
FSNAU’s findings also show 21% of children in the Juba and Gedo region are malnourished due to lack of clean water and lack of access to livestock milk as people move with their animals from one place to the other in search of water and pasture.
British based Oxfam international is warning more than half a million people in Somalia are facing starvation and in dire need of assistance. Geno Teofilo works with Oxfam Somalia. He says the situation is serious and appealed to donor governments to continue to supply aid.
“To all donor governments remember Somalia, continue to supply humanitarian assistance to Somalia, because they are in an hour of need now and in the next couple of months the situation will get worse and the people of Somalia will need more assistance.”
THE UN estimates more than 2 million people need emergency assistance and more than 12 000 are reported to have moved to the outskirts of Mogadishu leaving drought stricken areas. MOHAMMED YUSUF, FSRN