Somali president in Ethiopia to discuss crisis


Posted on August 2, 2011 14:20

Somalian President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed is in Ethiopia to discuss the famine in his country, which has forced thousands of people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Ahmed’s visit, which began on Monday, comes at a time when the African Union (AU) Commission is preparing for a conference on the famine in Somalia next week.

Soon after his arrival Sharif held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

There were reports that Sharif requested Ethiopia to join in the fight against the drought in Somalia.

Local television reported on Tuesday that Meles expressed Ethiopia’s willingness to provide transportation and logistics support to Somalia.

Sharif is also expected to hold talks on Tuesday with the AU officials on the upcoming conference.

There are more than 100,000 Somali refugees who fled the drought and conflict in camps around Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, UNHCR on Tuesday said it was ready to deliver assistance to up to 180,000 people in Mogadishu and south central Somalia by the end of the month.

“However, at the same time, our ability to deliver that much needed aid is being hampered by the ongoing fighting in the Somali capital,” the agency said.

“There were already over 370,000 internally displaced people in Mogadishu before the recent drought and famine related displacement, which has driven some 100,000 more desperate people into the war-ravaged city.”

In July alone, UNCHR said over 27,000 people were driven into Mogadishu from the surrounding areas of mainly Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle. All these areas have been hard hit by the drought.

“Almost as many people have fled to Mogadishu in just one month (27,100) as were displaced in the entire first quarter of this year (31,400),” UNHCR said.

The agency warned that food security was expected to deteriorate over the coming months.

By August and September, all regions of southern Somalia are likely to face famine, according to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET).

More than two million Somalis are reported to be in need of emergency food aid in addition to over a million children.

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