Latest data confirms improvements in Somalia's humanitarian situation

Humanitarian Coordinator cautions against complacency as crisis continues

Nairobi (01 February 2013) — The acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Stefano Porretti, welcomed the announcement today that the number of people in crisis in Somalia was halved in the past six months to 1.05 million, but cautioned that the recent gains could easily be reversed without sustained assistance.

"The announcement today shows that our innovative approaches to aid delivery, coupled with relatively favorable rains, has made a profound difference in the lives of people." he said. "However, the humanitarian situation in Somalia remains critical with more than 1 million people still in crisis, unable to meet their basic needs without assistance." A further 1.7 million people who emerged from crisis in the past year remain in a stressed food security situation. "The situation is fragile. Millions of Somalis could easily fall back into crisis without continued support to meet basic needs and build up livelihoods." Porretti said.

"Malnutrition rates have improved but are still among the highest in the world. with 215.000 children under five years of age acutely malnourished." he said, adding that early forecasts for the April-June rains suggest they will be below average.

"This is not the time to be complacent. In 2010, we saw similar marked improvements in the humanitarian situation. A year later, tens of thousands of people died in the famine that developed because impoverished people were unprepared to withstand the drought and the massive rise in food prices. With the generous support of donors. we saved countless lives. We could have saved more lives if funding had been in place earlier," Porretti said. "Now we have the best opportunity in 20 years to break the cycle of recurring humanitarian crises brought on by drought and conflict."

Humanitarians' innovative three-year strategy for Somalia addresses both immediate needs and the protracted nature of humanitarian crisis in Somalia by building community-based resilience to allow people to mitigate natural and recurrent shocks. Launched for the first time in Somalia in December. the consolidated appeal for Somalia requires $1.3 billion in 2013 for programming for immediate needs and to enhance resilience, which is essential to avoid the fallback into crisis like that of 2011. "We need to continue helping people who have lost everything to get back into a productive life so that they can cope with future shocks, thereby lessening their dependence on aid," Porretti said.

Somalia remains one of the most challenging and dangerous environments in the world for humanitarians. "Conflict and obstacles to access people in need remain major challenges that complicate aid efforts. But access is gradually improving. We will continue to pursue innovative ways to reach those in need as we did during the famine, while changing our overall approach from spending in response to each new crisis into investing to mitigate," Porretti said.

The data on the food security situation was released in a report issued today by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit. which is managed by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. The report is available at http://fsnau.org.

For further information please contact Russell Geekie at geekie@un.org or +254 731 043 156
For comment in Somali —Abdi Yussuf Noor at nooryussuf@un.org or —252-699775813
OCHA press releases are available at www.unocha.org/somalia or www.reliefweb.int

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.