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Millions to remain in need of aid, says agency

Displaced people wait to be given food during a distribution organised by the UN World Food Programme, USAID and other local and international NGOs, in Mogadishu Somalia on September 2008.
Displaced people wait to be given food (Jamal Osman/IRIN)

Somalia's food security situation is not expected to improve over the next six months and the number of people in need of humanitarian aid will remain high through December, the Famine and Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) says.

"Overall, the food-security situation in Somalia remains precarious, with over 3.2 million people in need of emergency humanitarian aid and livelihood support," FEWS Net said on 17 July in a report on the country's July-December food-security outlook.

The USAID-funded agency said the final outcome of the 2009 Gu (long rains) season would become clearer when an ongoing multi-agency assessment led by the Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU Somalia) is completed in early August.

The prevailing food insecurity in the capital, Mogadishu, and in Shabelle, Hiran, Mudug, Galgadud, Bakook and Gedo regions is not expected to improve in coming months, FEWS Net said, due to combined effects of continued conflict, displacement of civilians, failure of the Gu rains, high prices of staple foods and the deepening drought in central and northern regions.

Since May, at least 200,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Mogadishu by continued fighting between government troops and insurgents of the Islamist Al-Shabab group opposed to the government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

FEWS Net said between July and September, food insecurity would worsen in the drought-affected regions of Hiran, Galgadud, Mudug, Nugal, Sool, Sanag and Togdheer, while a "near normal" crop harvest is expected from the south, especially in Bay, Juba and Shabelle regions.

"However, due to the impacts of increased conflict on the main road linking the south and central regions, normal cereal flows will be impeded and no significant reduction in current high food prices will occur," FEWS Net said.

"Ongoing armed conflict in Mogadishu, Shabelle and parts of the central region will continue to contribute to food insecurity in IDP camps and among poor urban populations in host communities."

Massive mortality among weak animals in drought–affected regions is expected between October and December, the agency said, especially given the likelihood of average to above-average deyr (short) rains.

''Overall, the food-security situation in Somalia remains precarious, with over 3.2 million people in need of emergency humanitarian aid and livelihood support''

"Though off–season crop production and rangeland resources (water and pasture) will improve, the short-term impact of the El Niño is also likely to include serious flooding in the lower reaches of the Juba and Shabelle river basins in November and December," the agency said.

It based its food-security outlook on several assumptions: an escalation of armed conflict in Mogadishu, Shabelle and central regions through the end of the year; increased armed conflict resulting in more civilian displacement and restricted internal trade flows; the prevailing strong winds and hagaa dry spell worsening the availability of water and pasture in pastoral areas; El Niño - a phenomenon typically associated with good deyr (short) rains in October-December; and near-normal cereal harvest in key cropping areas of Bay, Shabelle and Juba regions.

In its quarterly food security and nutrition brief, FSNAU Somalia said it would conduct an emergency survey of the impact on internally displaced persons (IDPs) as part of the Gu assessment as the "depth and severity" of the IDP humanitarian emergency was increasing.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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