The UN has launched a flash inter-agency appeal for more than US $10 million dollars to help thousands of people in Somalia who were affected by the tsunami that devastated areas of South Asia and swamped some Indian Ocean coastal areas on 26 December.
The Somali appeal, which was launched on Thursday, was part of a larger request for $977 million for all the countries affected by the tsunami.
According to the appeal document, northeastern Somalia was the worst affected, particularly a stretch of around 650 km between Hafun [Bari region] and Garacad [Mudug region]. The damage extended to other parts of the Somali coast, including the Lower Juba area.
The tsunami led to the loss of life, destruction of shelters, houses and water sources, and loss of productive assets.
Many parts of Somalia were already suffering from four consecutive years of drought and periodic floods, in addition to chronic insecurity.
"The tsunami represents a further assault on an already vulnerable population," the appeal statement said.
The livelihoods of many people residing in small villages along the Somali coastline, it added, particularly in the northeastern regions, were devastated. Reports suggested that 150 lives were lost and 18,000 households directly affected. These households were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
The full needs are yet to be assessed. The Somali fishing industry was also significantly impacted. The fact that this time of the year coincides with the peak of the fishing season increased the number of those affected, the appeal noted.
The most urgent needs include drinking water, food and medication, as well as support for the construction and rehabilitation of houses and shelter.
According to the UN, the remoteness of many coastal communities - due to poor road infrastructure, the lack of reliable baseline information, the limited presence and capacities of implementing partners and government counterparts in the affected areas - has hindered the assessment process and increased the difficulties of providing relief to the victims.
The UN is spearheading and coordinating the relief effort through its humanitarian coordinator and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in collaboration with an emergency disaster response group, established by the Somali prime minister.
The $10,179,418 requested is to provide assistance to an estimated 54,000 people.
"As we grieve for the dead and pray for those still searching for loved ones, we have a duty to [help] the survivors," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a meeting of world leaders in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he launched the joint consolidated flash appeal for the tsunami-affected countries.
Annan called for a concerted effort to prevent a second wave of death from preventable causes due to polluted water and a third wave of despair where people cannot recover their livelihoods, homes or communities.
"Although we were powerless to stop the tsunami, together, we do have the power to stop those next waves," he said of the disaster that killed more than 150,000 people in a dozen countries, injured 500,000 more and left up to 5 million lacking basic services.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has said that it has distributed 218 mt of food aid so far to 12,000 Somalis affected by the tsunami. In a statement issued on Wednesday, WFP estimated that up to 30,000 people are in need of food assistance.
WFP teams on the ground have described the destruction caused by the wave and the obstacles that relief efforts will face in delivering aid to these villages. Kulub village near Gara'ad, for example, was still partly under water.
"Most of the 1,200 members of this fishing community live in makeshift huts of canvas and wood, all of which were swept away by the water," the WFP statement said.
In Hurdiye, a village of some 1,000 people, mainly fishermen and salt producers, all of their roughly 100 small fishing boats and other fishing materials were washed away, WFP said.