NewsEast & Horn AfricaSomalia's president calls for urgent food aid as six million face hunger.


Posted on Thursday, 02 March 2017 15:54

Somalia's president calls for urgent food aid as six million face hunger.

By Reuters

Somalis walk past a campaign poster for candidate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP/SIPAAn estimated five million Somalis are in need of food aid, after sparse rains triggered drought in much of the country, prompting the country's new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to declare the crisis a "national disaster".



Farmaajo also appealed to the international community to help raise 825 million US dollars to prevent the crisis from deteriorating into famine.

Addressing a high-level meeting on the drought response in Somalia, Farmaajo said the drought had depleted livestock, which represents the only asset many Somali people have.

"Those of us gathered here today can neither make the rain come nor provide adequate water to keep livestock alive. But we can respond more effectively, and we must do so now simply because the Somali nation is threatened with famine," he said.

According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network that are managed by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the number of Somalis in need of assistance has risen sharply in recent months, from an estimated 5 million in September 2016 to over 6.2 million today.

The figure represents more than half of Somalia's entire population.

Famine last struck pockets of Somalia in 2011, killing 260,000 people.

Major test for Farmaajo

It was caused by drought, conflict and a ban on food aid in territory held by al Shabaab.

Peter de Clercq, the humanitarian Co-ordinator for Somalia, said the international community must respond urgently to the drought in Somalia.

"The implications of this declaration would include enforcing tax exemption on the import of critical humanitarian supplies that still attract any form of taxes, temporary lifting of taxes and levies on NGOs to enable them to scale up the delivery of humanitarian assistance, strengthening security at critical areas of humanitarian delivery including the removal of illegal roadblocks, and firm measures to prevent and penalize diversion of humanitarian assistance," said De Clercq.

More than 400 million US dollars has been pledged by donors in support of the drought response, and the Humanitarian Co-ordinator urged donors to expedite disbursement of these funds to allow partners scale up their work.

Many analysts say that the crisis will be a major test for Farmaajo's newly installed government.


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