The international community has so far committed less than half of food and aid and money required for famine stricken Somalia, where aid groups say tens of thousands of people, mainly children, have died in the past months, and hundreds of thousands more are at risk.
UN Humanitarian Aid Chief Catherine Bragg told the Security Council earlier today, that the world body’s humanitarian partners were more than 560 million dollars short on funding to provide emergency assistance to the more than 2.8 million people.
Bragg says aid agencies still need 1.3 billion dollar to provide emergency assistance for the whole of the Horn of Africa. Earlier this week President Obama announced the US would be contributing an additional 105 million dollars to the crisis.
“Donors have committed more than a billion dollars to the response so far and continue to pledge more.We are very grateful, especially in these difficult economic times. But the magnitude of human suffering in Somalia today demands more.” Bragg told Council members. “Despite the difficulty of operating in one of the most conflict riven countries in the world, we cannot let people down,our response must be scaled up and the resources to support that effort must be provided.”
Speaking to reporters via teleconference, UN envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga said there had been a significant improvement in the security situation since Al Shabaab had withdrawn from Mogadishu last week, leaving the capital in control of Transitional Government Forces for the first time in years, but that the Islamic militant militia was still hindering aid delivery.
At the outset of the crisis Shabaab, who in the past has blocked humanitarian agencies from operating within the regions under its control, said it would grant humanitarian agencies access. The group has however refused to grant the WFP ( World Food Program) access to the region because of its close ties and majority funding from the US.
Mahiga says other group like the International Red Cross have been able to access these areas but do not have a sufficient food delivery capacity.
“It remains quite a challenge, when you have a group like Al Shabaab, that not only politicizes and attaches ideological attachments to humanitarian assistance but they still have security leverage to prevent humanitarian work.”