World must act now to avert a humanitarian disaster in Somalia – UN expert appeals for famine relief funds

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GENEVA (8 August 2014) – United Nations human rights expert Bahame Tom Nyanduga urges the international community to act now to avert a looming humanitarian disaster in Somalia. The new Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia calls on donors to respond to the humanitarian appeal launched by the UN and partners in collaboration with the Somali Government,which currently has a funding gap of US$ 663 million.

“The food shortage situation in Somalia is deteriorating rapidly.

An ongoing conflict, the lower than usual rains in the agricultural parts of the country, the hiking of food prices, and the limited access by humanitarian agencies to deliver much needed assistance in some parts of the country due to the conflict, are pushing Somalia closer and closer to an impending worrisome food insecurity and malnutrition situation.

Unfortunately, in spite of the early warning indicators, there appears to be inadequate response to a potential catastrophe, which could erode some of the gains of the Federal Government of Somalia to safeguard and guarantee the rights to life and the right to food for considerable number of Somali citizens.

International agencies have warned that only US$ 270 million, equivalent to 29% of the Somalia Strategic Response Plan of US$ 933 million requirement, had been received so far, leaving a funding gap of US$ 663 million.

The Government of Somalia has declared drought in seven regions, namely, Gedo, Bakool, Hiiraan, Galgaduud, Bay, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle and have warned that, if urgent measures are not taken there would be a repeat of the 2011 famine, when more than 250,000 people died, half of them children. They called in the international community and the UN to assist.

According to an alert released in early July by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the food security situation in Somalia is expected to deteriorate in the months ahead due to reduced crop production resulting from poor seasonal Gu rains (April to June), a surge in prices of basic commodities and reduced livestock production.

Around 203,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished while about 2.9 million people in Somalia need urgent life-saving and livelihoods support, a situation which is likely to worsen, according to FSNAU.

A repeat of the famine will likely see a loss of life to many Somali people in particular, women children, internally displaced persons and other vulnerable people, whose survival is necessary and important for a sustainable rebuilding the Federal Republic of Somalia. There is approximately 1.1 million internally displaced in Somalia, according to UNHCR.

I call on the donor community, and the public and private sector to urgently heed the multiple early warnings by the international community and address pressing humanitarian needs as outlined in the Strategic Response Plan for Somalia that has a funding gap of US$ 663 million in order to avert a humanitarian disaster in Somalia.

The world must act now.”

Mr. Bahame Tom Nyanduga (Tanzania) was appointed Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2014. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

Check the Independent Expert’s reports on Somalia to the UN General Assembly and the UN Human rights Council: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=48

UN Human Rights, country page – Somalia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SOIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Fiona Adolu (+41 22 928 9261 / fadolu@ohchr.org) or write to ie-somalia@ohchr.org

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